What tourists need to know about marijuana in Thailand

After easing the ban on the recreational drug, Thailand has created a ‘weed Wild West’ with confusing rules. So what are tourists allowed to do?

Since the delisting of parts of the marijuana plant as a narcotic last year, cannabis cafes and weed dispensaries have become common in Thailand.

But confusing government amendments to the laws and continued debate about what should be permitted has created what has become known as “a weed Wild West” that could land tourists in trouble. “Since legalisation, no one really [knows] whether we have the correct information”, says Kitty Chopaka, an independent cannabis advocate based in Bangkok.

The ministry of public health has published a new guide, and “as long as tourists follow a set of a few simple rules. there’s nothing to fear”, says Mendel Menachem at cannabis information hub High Thailand.

So what is allowed, and what is out of bounds?

Who can consume cannabis?

People older than 20 and who are not pregnant or breastfeeding are legally allowed to consume cannabis.

Where can you consume it?

Smoking it can be done inside an individual’s residence, and cannabis inside food can be consumed at a licensed restaurant. Smoking marijuana in public places such as schools, temples and shopping malls can lead to a 25,000 baht ($750) fine and a three-month prison sentence. As a rule, Chopaka says, people should be aware of not “encroaching” on other people’s space.

Where can you buy it?

There are more than 5,000 weed stores across the country, selling the cannabis flowers, pre-rolled joints, edibles with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level below 0.2%, infused foods and CBD oil. In cities such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya, dispensaries can easily be found. “But try to buy things from reputable, licensed places,” Chopaka says.

Can you grow it?

In order to cultivate cannabis, individuals must register with the country’s Food and Drug Administration. A permit is also needed to use cannabis flower buds for research, export or processing for commercial purposes.

How much can you consume?

There’s no limit for personal consumption, says Menachem. The ministry’s guide does, however, advise against driving after consumption.

What remains prohibited?

Tourists cannot enter or leave the country carrying any part of the plant or its seeds. As well, possession of extracts with a THC level higher than 0.2% requires permission that tourists are unlikely to have.

Menachem says: “People who live here and use [cannabis] appropriately and responsibly would hope that our guests and visitors will respect Thailand and the people around them and do things responsibly.”

This article was amended on 16 and 20 January 2023, to correct the number of stores selling cannabis, and to correct the spelling of Mendel Menachem’s first name.

… as 2023 gathers pace, and you’re joining us from the Netherlands, we have a small favour to ask. A new year means new opportunities, and we’re hoping this year gives rise to some much-needed stability and progress. Whatever happens, the Guardian will be there, providing clarity and fearless, independent reporting from around the world, 24/7. 

Times are tough, and we know not everyone is in a position to pay for news. But as we’re reader-funded, we rely on the ongoing generosity of those who can afford it. This vital support means millions can continue to read reliable reporting on the events shaping our world. Will you invest in the Guardian this year?

Unlike many others, we have no billionaire owner, meaning we can fearlessly chase the truth and report it with integrity. 2023 will be no different; we will work with trademark determination and passion to bring you journalism that’s always free from commercial or political interference. No one edits our editor or diverts our attention from what’s most important. 

Leave a Reply