Major change for popular Aussie tourist spot as Thailand flags cannabis backflip

Only two years after decriminalising cannabis and sparking an industry worth over $1 billion in the country, Thailand is set to put the genie back in the bottle in a major backflip that will impact tourists who briefly enjoyed the country’s burgeoning network on stores offering cannabis consumables.

The decision comes despite rapid growth of a retail sector which saw tens of thousands of businesses spring up in the country, quickly positioning it as the ‘Amsterdam of Asia’ where travellers could flock to and use the drug for recreational purposes.

However, after the decision to decriminalise the drug was accused of being rushed and promised legislation failed to pass through parliament, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has called for the status quo to return.

“I want the health ministry to amend the rules and re-list cannabis as a narcotic,” he said on social media on Wednesday. “The ministry should quickly issue a rule to allow its usage for health and medical purposes only.”

Prior to the decriminalisation, penalties were harsh with people caught in possession of the drug facing potentially multiple years in prison.

Tourists walk along a busy street in Thailand with a cannabis store in the background.Tourists walk along a busy street in Thailand with a cannabis store in the background.

Aussies will not be able to buy or use cannabis for recreational purposes in Thailand. Source: Getty

It in unclear when cannabis will be re-listed as a narcotic or what processes will be involved in this, but following a meeting with agencies involved in narcotic suppression, Thavisin promised authorities that his government would deliver results and “clear progress” within 90 days.

This will likely mean the roughly 800,000 Australians who travel to Thailand every year, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, will no longer be able to buy or use cannabis in the country. The change will again outlaw recreational use, requiring it to only be allowed for health and medical reasons.

The secretary-general of Thailand’s Cannabis Future Network criticised the decision, questioning why cannabis will once again be illegal for recreational use while alcohol and cigarettes are not.

“If scientific results show that cannabis is worse than alcohol and cigarettes then they can re-list it as a narcotic,” Prasitchai Nunua said. “If cannabis is less harmful, they should list cigarettes and alcohol as narcotics too.”

with Reuters

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