Thailand’s health minister this week discouraged foreign visitors from considering his country as a Cannabis tourism destination.
Thailand decriminalized the herb just months ago. But the Southeast Asian nation still seems rather, shall we say, ambivalent about it. And when ambivalence has incarceration as one possible consequence, it can be a dangerous thing.
“We don’t welcome those kinds of tourists,” Charnvirakul said about marijuana use among foreign tourists, reports the New York Post.
Cannabis Dropped From ‘Controlled Drugs’ List In February
In February, Charnvirakul signed a measure officially dropping Cannabis, best known in the form of smokable marijuana, from a list of “controlled drugs.”
Thailand legalized the closely regulated medicinal use of cannabis back in 2018. The government has very gradually eased restrictions since then.
In recent weeks, locals and tourists alike have been lighting up joints across Thailand. The government’s asking folks not to get high has been falling on deaf ears.
Those who do decide to burn one in public run the risk of three months behind bars. That’s not to mention a fine of $705.
The Thai government currently requests that people not get stoned But Charnvirakul did say it was something that could be OK someday soon.
“It might come in the near future,” he said. The health minister added that the Thai government first wants to gain a better understanding of the herb. That’s a bit odd, since both the Thai culture and humanity at large has at least 10,000 years of happy history with hemp.
Back in May, the Thai government gave away 1 million free cannabis plants for home cultivation.
Charnvirakul said people will no longer need to obtain a permit to grow cannabis at home, as long as it is declared to be for medicinal purposes and doesn’t have THC content above the legal maximum. That’s exactly the kind of weak equivocation, of course, that lands people in jail cells.
The health minister’s Bhumjai Thai Party is a major partner in the coalition government. The party campaigned in the 2019 general election for the legalization of Cannabis production, saying it would benefit farmers.
Thai officials hope a major new cannabis industry will blossom, generating hundreds of millions of dollars directly each year. They also hope the prospect of legal marijuana will attract foreign tourists, who have only recently begun returning in large numbers after being largely absent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But it remains to be seen if the Thai government is actually willing to jettison their archaic, judgmental attitudes towards getting high in order to get those tourists.