Thailand’s Plan to Reclassify Cannabis Gains Public Support

Thailand’s Plan to Reclassify Cannabis Gains Public Support

Chakrit Supasit
2 min read

Thailand's Majority Backs Reclassifying Cannabis as Narcotic

In Thailand, the majority of people have expressed their support for the government's plan to reclassify cannabis as a narcotic, aiming to restrict its recreational use. Over 80% of the 111,201 surveyed individuals endorsed the proposed plan, which would designate marijuana as a "category five" narcotic beginning next year. This decision signifies a reversal from Thailand's earlier step to decriminalize cannabis, making it the first country in Asia to do so two years ago. The shift in policy stems from mounting concerns about the adverse social and health effects, especially on young individuals and children, as cannabis dispensaries expanded throughout the nation. Health Minister Somsak Thepsutin emphasized the potential harm of recreational cannabis use on brain development and its link to increased risks of depression and suicide, noting that about 40% of young Thais addicted to heroin began with cannabis. The new regulations will classify cannabis buds as narcotics, while other parts of the plant will remain legal. However, this policy change has faced opposition from cannabis advocacy groups and businesses, leading to protests and threats of legal action against the government.

Key Takeaways

  • Over 80% of surveyed individuals in Thailand support the reclassification of cannabis as a narcotic.
  • Thailand intends to restrict cannabis use to medical and health purposes.
  • Cannabis buds will be labeled as narcotics under the new regulations.
  • Approximately 40% of young Thai heroin addicts initiated substance abuse with cannabis.
  • Cannabis advocacy groups are resisting the policy change and are considering legal action.


Thailand's reversal on cannabis decriminalization, backed by a majority, highlights elevated health and social concerns. This shift impacts cannabis businesses and advocacy groups, triggering legal challenges and potential financial setbacks. The policy aims to address youth addiction, a pivotal factor driving this change. In the short term, it may stabilize public health but could potentially impede economic opportunities related to cannabis tourism and industry. If successful in the long term, this move could set a precedent influencing regional drug policies, balancing public health against economic interests.

Did You Know?

  • Cannabis as a "category five" narcotic:
    • Explanation: The Thai government plans to reclassify cannabis as a "category five" narcotic, typically signifying substances with high abuse potential and no accepted medical use, leading to stringent legal controls and penalties. This marks a significant shift from Thailand's prior approach, where cannabis was decriminalized, making it the first Asian country to do so. The reclassification aims to prohibit recreational use, focusing instead on medical and health applications.
  • Negative social and health impacts of cannabis:
    • Explanation: The Thai government's decision to reclassify cannabis is spurred by concerns over its detrimental social and health effects, particularly on young individuals and children. Health Minister Somsak Thepsutin underscored the potential harm to brain development from recreational cannabis use, along with the increased risks of depression and suicide. Notably, about 40% of young Thais addicted to heroin reportedly started with cannabis, underscoring the potential gateway effect of cannabis use.
  • Cannabis advocacy groups' opposition:
    • Explanation: Cannabis advocacy groups in Thailand vehemently oppose the government's plan to reclassify cannabis as a narcotic. These groups, likely comprising businesses and organizations that benefitted from the prior decriminalization, view the policy change as detrimental to their interests. They have protested the decision and threatened legal action against the government, indicating a potential legal and public relations battle ahead.

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