Thai cannabis sellers gave their thoughts on the Move Forward Party-led coalition’s plan to regulate and redesignate cannabis as a narcotic.
In clause 17 of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat, who also leads the coalition that is likely set to form Thailand’s next government, declared the return of marijuana to the controlled narcotic list, with regulations in place to monitor and ensure the medical benefits of marijuana usage.
This caused conflicting thoughts within Thai society regarding the clarity of the plant’s legal status. Some of Thailand’s estimated thousands of cannabis shop operators like Nadgan@Pattaya came out to express his disagreement with the decision stating that marijuana has more benefits than drawbacks.
He said marijuana has proven to be a plant that can stimulate the economy. Whether people use it recreationally or medically should be considered as a different matter.
As for licensed shops that are already authorized to sell marijuana and have made significant financial investments, they should be allowed to continue their operations, the owner of Nadgan@Pattaya said. However, the regulations are not yet clear, and he expected that there will be reforms once the government is established.
Meanwhile, an unidentified marijuana retailer in Nonthaburi province gave an interview to Matichon about the proposal to reverse the current decriminalized status of marijuana.
He said that he had invested about 800,000 baht into opening a cannabis shop and it had already been fully recovered. The average daily sales back then were around 17,000-18,000 baht. The retailer used the remaining profits to reinvest in stocking up his store.
However, in the past two months, sales have decreased to about 4,000-5,000 baht per day. He observed that this might be due to the increased number of people traveling to other provinces during the April holiday season. In May, there was an increase in people returning home due to the general elections.
“This indicates that the marijuana business doesn’t have high sales because there are many competitors,” the retailer said.
He also mentioned that it would be challenging for marijuana to become completely illegal again because a large group of the Thai population uses marijuana for medicinal purposes and millions of Thais are now growing plants at home.
If it becomes a controlled substance again, it would affect those who rely on it for medical conditions, such as children with epilepsy who require CBD oil, the business owner said.
In addition, if the rules became the same as they were before the decriminalization millions of people could immediately be considered criminals even for a single plant at their home.
There have also been many concerns on social media, notes TPN media, about possible harassment of tourists and residents for even a single joint or a small amount of marijuana if made criminal again along with concerns about police corruption similar to vaping.
In conclusion, marijuana shop owners are continuing to urge the Thai government not to completely ban the plant again and waste precious law enforcement resources imprisoning people or going through court processes for cannabis.
One proposal from Pattaya cannabis organizations have been to embrace a zoning proposal in which some areas popular with tourists and with hundreds of marijuana shops, like Pattaya, be allowed exceptions or zoned as cannabis areas like current entertainment zones complete with proper licenses.
TPN media notes that Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat has stated that regulating cannabis as a narcotic doesn’t mean it would be banned completely and would just be done “temporarily” to establish further rules and regulations and speak to the people about what they want in terms of cannabis.
However, some very prominent anti-cannabis campaigners have called for all dispensaries nationwide to shut and said that Move Forward’s proposal to allow current licensed marijuana shops to stay open if they follow the rules, even if cannabis is a narcotic again, is unacceptable. Most prominent among these whistleblowers is former politician and former soapie massage owner Chuwit, as seen here.
Regardless, the status of cannabis will stay as is without regulations while the new Thai government goes through processes to form, which will take at least three months and likely another three to begin to pass or change any laws.