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Thailand makes marijuana legal, but smoking is discouraged

BANGKOK – Thailand has made the cultivation and possession of marijuana legal since Thursday, as a dream come true for the aging generation of pot smokers who remember the hit of the legendary Thai Stick variety.

The announced intention of the country’s Minister of Public Health to distribute 1 million marijuana seedlings, starting on Friday, added to the impression that Thailand is becoming a wonderland of weeds.

Some Thai advocates celebrated Thursday morning by buying marijuana in a cafe that was previously limited to selling products made from parts of the plant that do not irritate people. The dozen people who showed up at Highland Cafe could choose from a variety of pimples with names like Sugarcane, Bubblegum, Purple Afghani and UFO.

“I can say it out loud that I am a cannabis smoker. There is no need to hide, as in the past, when he was denounced as an illegal drug, “said Ritipong Bachkul, 24, the first customer of the day.

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For now, there seems to be no effort to control what people can grow and smoke at home, other than registering for it and declaring it for medical purposes.

“As far as the government is concerned, their job is to promote only medical use. But it is quite clear that we have come a long way and are finally legalizing its use. The government understands that this is more of a pros than a cons, “Ratapon Sanrak, co-owner of the café and longtime legalization activist, told the Associated Press.

For now, however, potential marijuana tourists may want to continue with caution.

The Thai government has said it advertises cannabis for medical use only, warning those who want to light up for fun that smoking in a public place can still be considered an inconvenience, subject to a potential sentence of three months and a fine of 25,000. Thai baht ($ 780).

And the extracted content, such as oil, remains illegal if it contains more than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the chemical that makes people feel high.

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The status of marijuana is still in considerable legal uncertainty, as although it is no longer treated as a dangerous drug, Thai lawmakers have not yet passed legislation to regulate trade in it.

Thailand has become the first nation in Asia to decriminalize marijuana – also known as cannabis or ganja in local jargon – but does not follow the example of Uruguay and Canada, the only two countries to legalize marijuana for their national entertainment. basis.

Thailand mainly wants to boom in the medical marijuana market. It already has a well-developed medical tourism industry and its tropical climate is ideal for growing cannabis.

“We need to know how to use cannabis,” said Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, the country’s largest marijuana producer. “If we have the right mind, cannabis is like gold, something valuable and needs to be promoted.”

But he added: “We will have additional notifications from the Ministry of Health from the Ministry of Health. If it causes inconvenience, we can use this law (to stop people from smoking).

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He said the government preferred to “build consciousness”, which would be better than patrolling to check people and use the law to punish them.

Some of the immediate beneficiaries of the change are people who have been imprisoned for violating the old law.

“From our point of view, the main positive result of the legal changes is that at least 4,000 people deprived of their liberty for cannabis-related crimes will be released,” said Gloria Lai, regional director of the International Consortium for drug policy.

“People facing cannabis charges will drop out, and money and cannabis seized from people accused of cannabis crimes will be returned to their owners. Its organization is a network of civil society organizations around the world that advocate for drug policies based on the principles of human rights, health and development.

However, the economic benefits are at the heart of marijuana reforms, which are expected to increase everything from national income to the livelihoods of small farmers.

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There are concerns about whether the benefits will be distributed fairly.

One fear is that giant corporations may be unfairly served by proposed regulations, including complex licensing processes and costly commercial fees that would make it difficult for small producers.

“We saw what happened to the alcohol business in Thailand. Only the big producers have the right to monopolize the market, “said Taopiphop Limjitrakorn, an MP from the opposition Movement Forward party. “We are worried that something like this will happen to the cannabis industry if the rules are in favor of big business,” his party said.

Small operators want to switch to the marijuana sector anyway.

On a hot Sunday afternoon in the Sri Racha district of eastern Thailand, Itisug Handzichan, owner of Goldenleaf Hemp, a cannabis farm, held his fifth training course for 40 entrepreneurs, farmers and retirees. Each of them paid about $ 150 to learn tips on cutting the seed coat and caring for the plants to get quality yields.

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One of those present was 18-year-old Chanadec Sonbun, who said his parents drove him to secretly try to grow marijuana plants.

He said his father changed his mind and now sees marijuana as a medicine, not something to be abused. The family runs a small home and cafe and hopes to one day provide cannabis to their guests.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Thailand makes marijuana legal, but smoking is discouraged

Source link Thailand makes marijuana legal, but smoking is discouraged

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