Thailand prime minister calls for recreational cannabis to be outlawed

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Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is calling on the nation’s health ministry to reclassify recreational cannabis as an illegal substance.

According to the Associated Press, Thavisin asked the Ministry of Public Health in a Wednesday post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to reclassify marijuana as a Category 5 drug, allowing “its use for medical and health purposes only.”

Category 5 drugs, which include opium and psilocybin, carry criminal penalties in Thailand for manufacturing, importing, exporting, selling and possession.

Those in violation could be sentenced to prison for up to 15 years, according to Japanese law firm Nishimura & Asahi.

Fines could eclipse 1.5 million baht ($40,606).

Thailand decriminalized marijuana in 2022 but failed to immediately implement comprehensive regulations and enforcement mechanisms to restrict what would be sold and where.

Thousands of stores opened in an ensuing regulatory vacuum, prompting politicians to pledge to address the issue.

Shortly after taking office, Thavisin vowed to rewrite cannabis laws that would allow only medical use in Thailand, the first Asian nation to decriminalize marijuana.

Thousands of cannabis businesses in Thailand have been bracing for major legal and regulatory changes as the country looks to curb adult-use sales and pivot the industry back to a medicinal market.