Legalization of Cannabis for Medical Use in Thailand

Regardless of the purpose, making cannabis available for the general public remains a highly controversial and debatable issue. Laws around the world either ban or restrict its cultivation, distribution, sale or use primarily because of its established adverse psychological effects. Until recent years, advocates for the narcotic are slowly gaining ground across several countries. Thailand is one of them with its recently signed royal decree allowing the possession and use of cannabis in limited quantities.

The Narcotics Act of B.E. 2522 (1979)

The Narcotics Act of B.E. 2522 specifically identified cannabis as an illegal substance which belongs to Category 5 and a violation thereof carries hefty prison terms and heavy fines. Depending on the type of illegal activity relating to cannabis, a person may be imprisoned between a year up to 15 years and/or a fine of not less than 40,000 Baht to not more than 1,500,000 Baht.

With the royal decree signed by His Majesty the King, the cultivation and possession of cannabis is now legal provided that the individual or party interested in procuring the psychotropic drug is eligible. Among those eligible are patients with prescriptions, licensed and certified medical professionals, health-related government agencies, state-registered agricultural community programs, and certified international logistics and transportation operators.

Individuals or entities involved in conducting research activities using cannabis are now be spared from being imposed with penalties or fined provided that they have satisfied the stringent requirements set forth by the government.

Highlights of the Royal Decree

Unique degrees of compliance is needed to be satisfied by modern and traditional practitioners of medicine, researchers, juridical entities and individuals for them to import, cultivate, possess and or distribute cannabis.

  1. Individual – As an example, an individual may opt to apply for a license to possess and use cannabis because of a certain medical condition provided that he is a Thai national residing within Thailand otherwise he may choose not to obtain a license if he has, in his possession, a prescription provided for by his duly accredited physician.
  2. Juridical Entity – If the applicant is a legal company; laws relating to narcotics, illegal drug use and those covering the entity’s operations are all applicable.
    1. The establishment is compliant to applicable Thai laws.
    2. Majority of the shareholders and directors are Thai nationals (at least two-thirds).
    3. Company office must be located in Thailand.

What to do

Prior to the conduct of any activities relating to cannabis, it is only prudent for individuals, juridical entities or any interested parties to consult with the key Thai government offices or to law firms in the country to ensure compliance with the Kingdom’s laws on narcotics. This is especially advised since the amendments are recent and that legal statutes, processes and government procedures are set to be modified or changed to accommodate the updated provisions of the law.

This option may be tedious, financially-challenging and time-consuming for some but the only way to ensure compliance is doing the proper way of having a cannabis-related business venture, research or obtaining a proper license for personal medical use. Approaching firms or individuals with questionable, non-existent or inexperienced in providing services in complying with Thai laws and regulations must likewise be avoided thereby the background of service providers must also be counter-checked.


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Category: Criminal Law

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Siam Legal is an international law firm with experienced lawyers, attorneys, and solicitors both in Thailand law and international law. This Thailand law firm offers comprehensive legal services in Thailand to both local and foreign clients for Litigation such as civil & criminal cases, labor disputes, commercial cases, divorce, adoption, extradition, fraud, and drug cases. Other legal expertise of the law firm varied in cases involving corporate law such as company registration & Thailand BOI, family law, property law, and private investigation.

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