Thailand became the first South-East Asian country to decriminalize marijuana on Thursday, reported CNN Travel.
Now that cannabis is removed from the banned Category 5 narcotics list, Thais can legally grow cannabis plants at home and sell the crop, a move that will, as the government hopes, boost agriculture and tourism.
In 2018, Thailand became the first Southeast Asian country to legalize cannabis for medical use.
However, with recreational use of cannabis still being prohibited in the country, penalties for those who use the plant to get high will remain, said Thai Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.
Those caught smoking in public will still face up to three months in jail and an $800 fine. However, according to the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), cannabis possession will not result in arrest as of Friday.
Recreational Use Is Still ‘A No’
Charnvirakul, who is also a deputy prime minister, warned recently that recreational use is still "a no."
"We still have regulations under the law that control the consumption, smoking, or use of cannabis products in non-productive ways," he said. “There has never once been a moment that we would think about advocating people to use cannabis in terms of recreation -- or use it in a way that it could irritate others."
Interestingly, Charnvirakul, recently announced that his ministry plans to give away a million marijuana plants.
Now that cannabis decriminalization is enacted, one thousand cannabis plants will be distributed for free to people in Buri Ram starting on Friday, reported the Bangkok Post. The giveaway will last until Sunday, Charnvirakul added.
While Health Ministry deputy permanent secretary Dr. Thongchai Keeratihattayakorn recently said even smoke and odor can be a reason for officials to order people to stop smoking cannabis, under decriminalization, using parts of the plant to treat an illness is allowed. Moreover, cafes and restaurants are also free to serve cannabis-infused food and drinks containing less than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
"The ministry has submitted a letter to the Office of the Consumer Protection Board [OCPB] to issue laws preventing people from using cannabis and hemp for recreational activities," Keeratihattayakorn said, reported Nation Thailand.
How To Apply For Cannabis Cultivation Permits
So far, over 100,000 budding cannabis growers have registered via the ‘Plook Ganja’ website and mobile application reported Thaiger.
To get permission to grow cannabis or hemp at home, cultivators are obliged to notify the country’s FDA about their intentions. They can apply in two ways, either via the ‘Plook Ganja’ (‘Grow Cannabis’) mobile application - for IOS and Android users – or through the ‘Plook Ganja’ website.
Earlier this week, the Thai FDA released guidelines for the cultivation, import and possession of marijuana.
In addition, over 3,000 of those convicted of cannabis-related drug offenses will be released from prisons nationwide. The Office of the Judiciary recently said that cannabis-related trials and detention that are in motion will be canceled now that plant is decriminalized.