Napa Business Solutions brief; explanation; and predictions on Thailand's cannabis laws
As of January 4, 2023, the Thai government published new prices for licenses, stating that the prior prices were for provisional licenses. The following are the provisional prices and the permanent 3-year licenses:
Retail: Provisional 3,200THB (5-7,000 permanent 3 year)
Import/export (provisional 20,000THB)
Export (permanent) 10,000THB
Import (permanent) 100,000THB
The biggest threat to marijuana business in Thailand is the volatile, contradictory, and opaque regulatory environment—and the political battle taking place between the political parties. It's possible that this all might be a purely political maneuver—(a red herring) something to give to the opposition party to make young people dislike them because currently the traditional and older people are backing the current government and the Royal family. Thailand might go back to more draconian loss regarding marijuana and blame it on the opposition party, thereby breaking their hold over younger Thais.
It is our guess at Napa that private smoking will remain legal with minimum regulation and minimum licensing required for a few months while the new law is being drafted.
After Thailand's parliament passes the new law, it is our prediction at Napa that a more regulated industry with a more extensive licensing process, background checks, and a tax structure specifically for the sale of recreational marijuana, (possibly a marijuana-specific tax more than the 20% currently on corporate profits).
The new law may even require that police or agents from the revenue department or MOH will be allowed to check on any structure in the licenses without a warrant to ensure compliance. Western controlled shops with a 51%/49% limited corporate structure will definitely come under closer scrutiny, as they are now. (If possible, setting up a 33% Western and 66% Thai may prevent the "extraordinary" government oversight. And non-compliance with the laws and regulations can result in shops and grows being shuttered with no due process whatsoever, much like the closing of the bars on Sukhumvit next to and opposite Asoke Road intersection (i.e. Soi Cowboy) about 15 years ago with bulldozers at 2am.
What the government wants is large-scale import and export business of cannabis, and the selling and use of cannabis for medical therapy. Businesses that will be most safe will be large grows that are exporting and/or selling therapeutic clinics.
It is not impossible that this law will reflect one of the 20 US states that have various levels of legal marijuana. (Our guess is that it will be similar to some of the states that require a medical card to obtain cannabis, but that medical card will be relatively easy to obtain) because it will allow for retail to residents and Thais, but not tourists, especially backpackers...
Money should not be kept at any location where there is marijuana. To avoid this, gold is a good option. It can be held in your home or with your lawyer, anywhere that is not listed on a cannabis license.
Gold bars can be bought and sold with an extremely low transaction fee–much less than any cash transaction locations or Banks, for example. And when the gold is sold for cash, the price on the window, the current price on the internet, is the price you get. A little study of gold Thailand is recommended.
All of the government and legal preparation in the last 4 years has been for the legalization of medical marijuana, nobody was talking about recreational marijuana.
And it should be noted, that the Prime Minister of Health Anutin, who is the politician most responsible for the decriminalization and the current legalization of marijuana, has repeatedly said that he has never intended for recreational marijuana use to be legal. He has been quoted as saying “tourists who are coming to Thailand to smoke marijuana should think again.”
These or not the statements of a man who is going to open up his country to wide scale recreational use.
It should also be noted that the prime minister, Prayut Chan O Cha hates smoke. He hates cigarettes, but he hates all types of smoke, primarily hating cigar smoke. It's a personal thing with him. (There are stories about him dressing down full bird Colonels and one and two star journals in public for smoking cigars while they were off duty and in his presence). He has been the politician most responsible for ramping up anti-cigarette laws, and if you read his speeches, it is clearly a personal thing with him.
And smoking in public, similar to the Amsterdam of 20 years ago smoking in cafes, will almost certainly be specifically illegal. There is still a law on the books from 1992 about smoking in public areas being a public nuisance with a fine of about 25,000 baht and up to three years in prison. There is also a law about extinguishing your cigarette on the street, which is anywhere from 2,000 baht to 5,000 baht, although it can usually be negotiated. (Just don't aim for a sewer; then you're breaking two laws, and the fine starts at 5,000 baht. I've seen this with my own eyes. Again, originating from Prime Minister Prayut.
It is also our combined guess that there will be specific laws on food and drinks and other consumables made from marijuana extracts, that will include all cannaboids, and rearranging the chemical structure of THC will not allow people to be in compliance if they are still making people high. If edibles remain illegal, it will be an adult food and drink and in adult areas, like bars. The gummies, specifically, and all the candies, and anything that could get into the hands of children will almost certainly be specifically mentioned as illegal.
Because extracts can be so powerful, and watch cow testing of THC and other cannaboids that can make people high, they will probably be an issue.
The current law allows for only 0.2% of THC in marijuana extracts, which means you have to eat about 40 brownies to feel anything.
Also, candies and especially things like gummy bears might be specifically banned as the government will feel that it can wind up in the hands of children.
How and where cannabis will be legal
It is the combined counsel and advice of the lawyers at Napa Business Solutions–as well as a group of about half a dozen Bangkok lawyers that if recreational use is allowed–it will only allowed inside private homes, possibly consumed as an adult beverage inside licensed bars, and foreign direct investment for retail-only business should be into ventures that have a secondary revenue streams, like a bar or a pizzeria, which will allow the government to 'save face' as these businesses are coffee shops or pizzerias, not recreational dispensaries with bongs in the window. (We recommend against neon pot leaves outside your shop. However, innuendo like what's been done in Cambodia for 30 years offering "Happy pizza" or "happy drinks" would be smart.
There may be "Cannabis sandboxes" similar to the Covid Sandboxes in Phuket and Koh Samui where recreational use will be allowed inside the hotel areas, as well as cannabis-hotels and resorts. And it will probably be in these areas, including the islands just north of Samui and the Islands in Krabi and Phang-Na. Possibly Pattaya as well. But as Pattaya is jointly governed with the mob, it'll do it's own thing as it always has….
Also, the government is going to figure out how to tax an industry estimated to be worth 55 billion US dollars in a couple years.
More than anything, much like the US States all wanting the tax revenue of Colorado, it will be the taxes that will keep some form of recreational marijuana alive in Thailand.
— — —
The following is from the Bangkok Post, Lonely Planet, Time Magazine, the Washington Post et.al. as well as authors at Napa and a few other firms (a list of citations is at the end of the document):
“Cannabis Rules Tweet as Bill stalls.”
Bangkok post on November 12th
Health ministry says only cannabis buds will be listed as controlled, with sales and advertising curbs.
The bill is currently moving to Parliament. Even the ministers and lawmakers who created the decriminalization and the legalization did not intend recreational use.
Thailand has slightly revised rules on the sale and use of cannabis as a “controlled herb,” while awaiting a controversial bill on the plant that has been delayed due to criticism from lawmakers concerned about recreational drug use. (As of November 12,2022).
Minister of Health, Anutin, the politician most responsible for the decriminalization / legalization of marijuana and Thailand was quoted as saying that “recreational use was never my goal, and tourists that come to Thailand to get high should think again.“ in addition, the current laws are more than just not selling to people under 20 years old and pregnant women. There are a few of the current laws:
Selling marijuana to people under 20 is illegal.
Selling marijuana to women who are pregnant or lactating is illegal.
The cannabis buds, the flowers that contain the concentrations of cannaboid drugs like THC, will be considered a “controlled herb.”
License businesses must report to the government.
License holders of all Licenses will be required to report to the government the amount of stock they hold and details of the sourcing and uses.
Businesses are required to inform the government each time they export control the herbs.
Sales to students is illegal
Sales to vending machines or electronic or online channels is prohibited
Commercial advertising is prohibited.
Cannabis extracts that contain more than 0.2% of THC is illegal.
Keeping more than 15 plants in your house without a license is illegal (there is substantial question about the number of plants allowed). Now part of the law says the amount of plants will be unlimited, as the whole point of the bill was for Thailand’s farmers to make cash crops for medical marijuana use. Therefore, the winning the number of plants to 15 or to any specific number would hamstring farmers, especially large commercial farms. Who that applies to is in question. (We recommend that you get the online registration license for 15 plants. In fact, we recommend that you get every license, with the exception of the import/export if you have no plans on doing that. They're not expensive. Of you are a larger business, buy the import/export as soon as possible. The price will escalate to 100,000THB soon.
Only the Cannabis bud or flower will be considered a “controlled herb”. The rest of the plant will not be considered a controlled herb.
Only seeds and strains from Thailand are legal. Using imported strains & seeds and probably selling foreign cannabis recreationally is illegal.
— — —
Smoking in Public
(old Amsterdam-type cafes)
“Despite the ground-breaking legislative changes, the Thai government remains uncomfortable with people smoking marijuana in public. In an effort to curb this, authorities recently unearthed the 1992 Public Health Act, which prohibits any “act of public disturbance” resulting from smoke and/or smell. Violators of this law can face a 25,000 baht (around $690) fine and three months of imprisonment.”
Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin recently said that “further liberalization of cannabis for recreational use is possible in the future’.”
The Politics and Minister of Health Anutin
Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin recently said that “further liberalization of cannabis for recreational use is possible in the future’.”—Minister of Public Health Anutin
“It’s an extremely confusing picture where different government ministries consistently say contradictory things. Despite the lack of regulation and rampant proliferation, Anutin continues to deny that recreational cannabis is legal, but says that it can only be used for “medical purposes.” He also said that “we won’t welcome” marijuana tourists even as the Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mulls setting up a “cannabis sandbox” that allows tourists to light up freely in designated zones. Plus there are the challenges of Thailand’s becoming a cannabis exporter given logistical barriers to shipping what’s commonly deemed a controlled narcotic, not to mention competition from mature markets elsewhere. Meanwhile, the real possibility that the law can lurch back to draconian prohibition hangs heavy over the budding industry.”
“Since decriminalization, Anutin has given away 1 million cannabis plants to households in well-rehearsed publicity stunts. (Critics also point out that Anutin’s brother is on the board of a company that produces hemp, although Anutin denies any impropriety.)”
1992 law on Smoking as a Public Nuisance and Fine.
“Growing cannabis plants for personal consumption is allowed, but selling plants or derivative products officially requires a license. Whereas cannabis flowers can have unlimited quantities of THC, derivatives like gummies can have only a token 0.2%. Smoking cannabis at home may be legal, but lighting up in the street is discouraged by existing laws governing behavior deemed a “public nuisance” and could mean a $700 fine or three months’ imprisonment. “
---Time Magazine August 24, 2022
What happens when you cook marijuana, and what are the legal consequences? Can I can actually change THC to get around the law through decarbing and other methods?
“When eating/ingesting cannabis, the THC is processed through the digestive system and metabolized in the liver as 11-Hydroxy metabolite. In short, the psychoactive effects of THC will feel more potent and last longer. “Start low, go slow, less is more” is the mantra for edibles. “
Decarboxylate / Activate THC from Cannabis Flower
Decarb / Decarboxylate / Activate means heating the flower to a specific temperature between 240°F and 295°F to convert the THCa molecule to THC.
There are several different to do this, but changing the chemical structure of THC to something else that is still intoxicating will also be illegal and considered an extract. Trying to get around the law with chemistry will not work. If it gets you high when you eat it or drink it, it will be considered an extract from the 'controlled herb' anything more than 0.2% (which will never get anyone High) shall be illegal, as the bill stands now.
Certainly, candies and gummy bears will be specifically illegal. Anything that looks good to children will be illegal.
Do not try to make an argument in front of a judge in Thailand that your particular extract is legal because of blah blah blah blah... If it gets people high, it will fall within the law as Thai judges see it. The Ministry of Health Department of Traditional and Complementary medicine will feel the same.
Benveniste, Alexis (14 June 2022). “Marijuana is now legal in Thailand. What does that mean for tourists?”. Washington Post.
“Thailand approves medicinal cannabis”. BBC News. 25 December 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
“Notifications of the Ministry of Health Re : Specifying the Category V Narcotic Substance 2565 BE (2022 AD)” (PDF). Royal Thai Government Gazette. 8 February 2022.
“Act Promulgating the Narcotic Code 2564 BE (2021 AD)” (PDF). Royal Thai Government Gazette. 7 November 2021.
Martin, Marie Alexandrine (January 1975). “Ethnobotanical Aspects of Cannabis in Southeast Asia”. In Rubin, Vera (ed.). Cannabis and Culture. Mouton Publishers. Pp. 63–76. ISBN 9027976694. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
Blair, Eric (11 July 2001). “History of Marijuana Use and Anti-Marijuana Laws in Thailand”. Thailand Law Forum. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
Kapoor, Kanupriya; Thepgumpanat, Panarat (12 December 2018). “Weeding out foreigners: strains over Thailand’s legalization of marijuana”. Reuters. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
“Thailand to give away one million free cannabis plants to households, minister says”. KMIZ. 11 May 2022. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
“Explained: Why Thailand will distribute 1 million cannabis plants to households”. The Indian Express. 12 May 2022 – via Yahoo! News.
“พระราชบัญญัติกันชา พุทธศักราช ๒๔๗๗” (PDF). Royal Thai Government Gazette. 52: 339–343. 5 May 1935. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
“Criminal Drug Offences in Thailand”. Siam Legal. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
“Thailand approves medical marijuana in New Year’s ‘gift’”. Nikkei Asia.
“Thailand’s Unlikely Embrace of Cannabis”. Bloomberg.com. 18 July 2019 – via www.bloomberg.com.
Reuters (25 January 2022). “Thailand gives green light to growing cannabis at home”. Reuters. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
“Is Weed Legal in Thailand? – Weed Thailand”. 18 May 2022. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
Cannabis US company opens medical marijuana clinic in Thailand
“ปลดล็อกกัญชา 9 มิ.ย.นี้ ทำอะไรได้แค่ไหน สายเขียวปุ๊นในที่สาธารณะได้หรือไม่”. ไทยรัฐ. 12 June 2022.
“Plookganja.fda.moph.go.th”. Food and Drug Administration of Thailand.
Thepgumpanat, Kanupriya Kapoor, Panarat (12 December 2018). “Weeding out foreigners: strains over Thailand’s legalization of marijuana”. Reuters – via www.reuters.com.
“Inside Thailand’s free cannabis clinic”. France 24. 6 January 2020.
Setboonsarng, Chayut (6 January 2020). “Thailand rolls out cannabis clinic based on traditional medicine”. Reuters – via www.reuters.com.
Somerset, Sara Brittany. “Thai Cannabis Clinic Sees Thousands Of Patients In Its First Week”. Forbes.
Can medical cannabis in Thailand balance profits and