Here's What Every Cannabis Tourist Should Know Before Traveling to Thailand
Thailand's cannabis regulations have been just as confusing as every other legal market. Here's what you need to know!
Published on January 12, 2023

The legal and penal processes of cannabis legalization can be confusing anywhere, which is why any potential weed tourists in Thailand should probably check out the Guardian’s recently-published pointers on navigating Thai weed laws.

As it goes with weed bodegas in New York City, the wait for cannabis regulation in Thailand led to an increasingly visible unlicensed market in places like Bangkok’s tourist-heavy Khaosan Road. On that stretch, different kinds of bud and other cannabis products are sold out of trucks. The unsuspecting tourist may not know — or, frankly, care — if the pre-rolls they’re picking up are legal under Thailand's laws.

Here’s a big takeaway, though: Unlicensed commercial activity involving cannabis remains prohibited in Thailand. At the moment, the country's 2,600 registered weed stores sell products with less than 0.2% THC. These relatively tight restrictions may not change any time soon. 

A failed vote last fall for the country’s Cannabis Act amid concerns over Thailand's “liberalization” of cannabis policy means a legal recreational industry for weed might still be a long time coming. A wave of public outrage that seemed to build only after cannabis was legalized is making some political progress difficult.

As you can imagine, that hasn’t been great news for dispensary owners, many of whom opened in the thrilling first days and months after the government announced the drug’s rescheduling. Now, they’re facing police persecution and the future of their businesses is in doubt.

“A new government order instructing police to ‘arrest and prosecute’ those selling or exporting cannabis without permission,” went out in July, according to the Thai news outlet Coconuts. Subsequent police operations have shuttered multiple unlicensed cannabis businesses at a time, including the arrest of six vendors last month, including five people who own unlicensed weed trucks and one with a non-wheeled, non-permitted cannabis store.

We were unable to find data on how many, if any, Thai consumers have been arrested since the drug was descheduled. But Thai government officials including health minister Anutin Charnvirakul, the country’s top cannabis advocate, have gone back and forth on their thoughts on weed tourism.

If you live in Japan, understand that your government wants you to avoid Thai weed altogether. And if you are a person who lives in any part of the world, is planning on heading to Thailand, and may want to blaze, it’s important to know what Thailand’s laws say. You may end up breaking some of them anyways, as you technically would by buying recreational weed (MERRY JANE does not endorse this action!! Ahem). But don’t be dumb, and definitely be a considerate guest in a country that’s not your own.

Here’s some guidelines to follow, according to the Guardian. You gotta be older than 20, and — boo — pregnant and breast-feeding people have apparently been passed over when it comes to their right to access cannabis. Personal, private consumption is fine. 

But smoking in public, specifically in schools, temples, and shopping malls, can land you a fine that goes up to 25,000 baht, or $750 USD — and other sources, including CNN, have said that three months in jail is even on the table. Smoking where you are reasonably sure that you are not inconveniencing anybody is definitely a good move.

Other things: you need a license to cultivate, driving after you consume is frowned upon, and you can’t bring your weed or even seeds home with you. In a totally law-abiding way we ask you: Report back on those Thai sticks!

Follow Caitlin on Instagram, and catch her Spanish-language podcast Crónica on Spotify and Mixcloud.

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Caitlin Donohue
Caitlin Donohue is a Bay Area-raised, Mexico City-based cannabis writer and author of She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics and the World. Her weekly show Crónica on Radio Nopal explores Mexican marijuana culture and politics in the prohibition era. Follow Caitlin on IG @byrdwatch.
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