Criminal Drug Offences

in Thailand

What is the legal basis for drug-related offences in Thailand?

Provisions for drug-related offences are contained in a raft of laws variously defined in the Measure for Suppressing Narcotic Offenders Act 2534 (1991) as being 'laws governing narcotics and laws governing active materials which have an active effect on the mind and the nerves.' The two most important Acts for practical purposes are the Narcotics Act 2522 (1979) and the Psychotropic Substances Act 2518 (1975).

How do the two acts define various substances?

The Psychotropic Substances Act defines the term "psychotropic substances" as being "such a psychotropic substance which is natural or derived from nature, or synthetic as the Minister notifies in the Government Gazette." Such "psychotropic substances" are classified into 4 categories, known in the Act as Schedules. Commonly known substances falling within the ambit of the Act include the following:

  • Schedule 1 – Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC – the active ingredient of cannabis); Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB)
  • Schedule 2 – Ketamine; Ephedrine; Midazolam (Dormicum, Versed etc.); Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Schedule 4 – Alprazolam (Xanax); Diazepam (Valium); Lorazepam (Ativan)

The Narcotics Act defines the term 'narcotics' as being 'any form of chemicals or substances which, upon being consumed whether by taking orally, inhaling, smoking, injecting or by whatever means, causes physiological or mental effect in a significant manner such as need of continual increase of dosage, having withdrawal symptoms when deprived of the narcotics, strong physical and mental need of dosage and health in general being deteriorated…' Substances defined as narcotics are classified into 5 categories (the act also uses the term 'Category' rather than 'Schedule' as used in the Psychotropic Substances Act). Commonly known substances falling within the ambit of the Narcotics Act include the following:

  • Category 1 – Heroin;Amphetamine; Methamphetamine; MDMA (Ecstasy); LSD
  • Category 2 – Cocaine; Codeine; Methadone; Morphine
  • Category 5 – Cannabis; psychoactive mushrooms; Kratom Plant

What are the penalties for unlawful production under the acts?

Under the provisions of Psychotropic Substances Act, the penalties are as follows:

For Schedule 1 and 2 Substances:
  • Imprisonment of 5-20 years and a fine of 100,000-400,000 Baht for production, importation or exportation sale
  • Imprisonment not exceeding 5 years and a fine not exceeding 100,000 Baht for carrying across borders
  • Imprisonment of 1-5 years and a fine of 20,000-100,000 Baht for possession, use or consumption
For Schedule 3 and 4 Substances:
  • Imprisonment not exceeding 5 years and a fine not exceeding 100,000 Baht for production, importation or exportation sale
  • Imprisonment not exceeding 5 years and a fine not exceeding 100,000 Baht for carrying across borders
  • Imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding 20,000 Baht or both for possession, use or consumption

Under the provisions of the Narcotics Act, the penalties are as follows:

For Category 1 Substances:
  • Up to life imprisonment and a fine of 1,000,000-5,000,000 Baht for production, importation or exportation, unless for the purpose of disposal, in which case the penalty is death. The intention to 'dispose' is inferred through quantities defined in the Act
  • Up to life imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 – 5,000,000 Baht, or the death penalty, (depending upon the amount of the substance or substances found) for disposal or possession for the purpose of disposal
  • Up to 10 years imprisonment or a fine of 20,000 – 200,000 Baht for possession. Note again that if the quantity of the substance or substances found exceeds prescribed levels in the act, then possession for the purpose of disposal will be inferred. It should also be noted that 'disposal' is defined in the act as meaning to 'sell, distribute, give away indiscriminately, exchange or give
  • Up to 3 years imprisonment or a fine of 10,000 – 60,000 Baht for consumption
For Category 2 Substances:
  • Up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 – 1,000,000 Baht for production, importation or exportation. If the substance or substances found include morphine, opium or cocaine the penalty is increased to imprisonment of 20 years to life and fine of 2,000,000 – 5,000,000 Baht
  • Up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of 20,000 – 200,000 Baht or both for disposal or possession for the purpose of disposal. In the case of morphine, opium or cocaine, 3-20 years or a fine of 60,000 – 400,000 Baht if the amount is under 100 grams, or 3-20 years or a fine of 500,000 – 5,000,000 Baht if over
  • Up to 5 years or a fine not exceeding 100,000 Baht or both for possession. If the quantity is 100 grams of a pure substance or more, this will be regarded as possession for the purpose of disposal
  • Six months to three years or a fine of 10,000 – 60,000 Baht or both for consumption
For Cannabis Under Category 5:
  • From 2-15 years imprisonment and a fine of 200,000 – 1,500,000 Baht for production, importation or exportation
  • From 2-10 years imprisonment or a fine of 40,000 – 200,000 Baht or both for disposal or possession for the purpose of disposal. If the quantity is over 10 kilograms, the penalty is increased to a maximum of 15 years and a fine of 200,000 – 1,500,000 Baht
  • Imprisonment not exceeding 5 years and or a fine not exceeding 100,000 Baht or both for possession
  • Imprisonment not exceeding 1 year and a fine of 100,000 – 1,000,000 for consumption
For Kratom Plant Under Category 5:
  • Imprisonment not exceeding 2 years and a fine not exceeding 200,000 Baht for production, importation or exportation
  • Imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding 40,000 Baht or both for disposal or possession for the purpose of disposal. If the quantity is over 10 kilograms, the penalty is imprisonment not exceeding 2 years and a fine not exceeding 200,000 Baht
  • Imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or a fine not exceeding 20,000 Baht or both for possession

Imprisonment not exceeding 1 month or a fine not exceeding 2,000 Baht for consumption 

Who is charged with overall control of drug enforcement?

The Narcotics Control Act 2519 (1976) designates the Narcotics Control Board (NCB) with overall responsibility for prevention and suppression of illegal drug use in Thailand. The Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) is the body which implements any resolutions of the NCB.

What powers do drug enforcement officials have?

Under provisions of the act, "competent officials" (for most practical purposes, this means the police), have to following powers of stop, search and arrest:

  • To enter and search any place or dwelling place, providing they have reasonable grounds to suspect that there is a person or persons who they reasonably suspect to be involved in the commission of offences relating to narcotics on the premises or there are illegal drugs on the premises, or the premises are being used or are intended to be used in the commission of offences involving illegal drugs. Note that the officials must have reasonable grounds to believe that delaying any search in order to obtain a warrant would result in the escape of any suspects, or the substances in question being hidden, destroyed or in some other way "transformed"
  • To search any person or vehicle if there are reasonable grounds to suspect they are carrying or hiding illegal drugs
  • To enter and search premises without a warrant (having reasonable grounds for suspicion) and order a person or a group of people to undergo "on the spot" drug tests (under provisions of the fifth amendment of the Narcotics Act)
  • To arrest any person involved in the commission of any offence related to illegal drugs
  • To seize any illegal drugs or any property being used or intending to be used in the commission of offences relating to narcotics or such that may be used in evidence
  • To search under the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code
  • To make inquiries regarding suspects alleged to be involved in offences relating to narcotics
  • To issue a letter of enquiry or a summons to any person or official of any Government agency to give a statement or submit an account, document or material for examination

What is the law with regard to conspiracy?

The Act on Measures for the Suppression of Offenders in an Offence relating to Narcotics 2534 (1991) provides that two or more persons conspiring to commit an offence relating to narcotics shall be guilty of conspiracy and if the offence is subsequently committed, shall all be equally liable to the penalty imposed for such offences.

Are there provisions for the forfeiture of assets?

The above act provides for the forfeiture of all "instruments, equipment, conveyances, machineries or any other properties used in the commission of an offence relating to narcotics or used as accessories for producing the consequence of the commission of an offence relating to narcotics or possessed for use in the commission of an offence relating to narcotics," irrespective of whether any person is convicted in relation to any such offences. Authorities may also 'seize, restrain or confiscate the proceeds of drug trafficking' in any case, and additionally prosecute offences which took place outside the Kingdom, provided that:

  • The offender or any accomplice is a Thai national or has a place of residence in Thailand
  • The offender is an alien and intends its consequence to occur within the Kingdom or the Thai Government is the injured person
  • The offender is an alien and such act is an offence under the law of the State in the jurisdiction of which the offence is committed, if such offender has appeared in the Kingdom and has not been extradited under the law on extradition
Local Office Numbers:
Bangkok: 02-259-8100
Phuket: 076-326-322
Chiang Mai: 053-818-306
Pattaya: 03-300-8830
International Numbers:
US: 1-877-252-8831
UK: 0207-101-9301
Australia: 028-015-5273
Thailand: +66 2259-8100