Thailand Decriminalizes Cannabis

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    Thai authorities have questioned the recreational use of the cannabis plant, decriminalizing marijuana as of Tuesday, being the first Asian country to approve it. Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced that the Narcotics Control Office has removed cannabis from the official list of controlled drugs.

    The measure of the Food and Drug Administration under the ministry requires the minister’s signature and will take effect 120 days after its publication in the official gazette. Last month, cannabis — a plant species that includes both marijuana and hemp — was removed from the list of illegal drugs under the Thai Narcotics Act.

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    Police and lawyers said it was unclear whether marijuana possession would no longer be an arrestable offense. A series of related laws determine that the production and possession of marijuana remain regulated for now, so the legal status of recreational marijuana is in a gray area.

    The measure of the Ministry of Health maintains on its list of controlled drugs the parts of the cannabis plant that contain more than 0.2 percent by weight of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the drug’s psychoactive ingredient. In 2020, Thailand decriminalized the production and consumption of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

    Under the 2020 changes, almost all parts of the cannabis plant were removed from “Category 5” controlled drugs, but the seeds and buds, associated with recreational use, remained. The new proposal removes all parts of the plant from the list.

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