Thailand's Cannabis Industry Faces Legal Battle Amidst Decriminalization Rollback

Thailand’s Cannabis Industry Faces Legal Battle Amidst Decriminalization Rollback

Thailand’s cannabis industry is on edge as the government weighs potential rollbacks of its historic decriminalization reforms, prompting cannabis entrepreneurs and operators to brace for legal battles, reports This Week in Asia.

The threat of litigation looms large following the introduction of legislation earlier this year by Thailand’s health minister, which could effectively criminalize recreational cannabis consumption. The proposed measures include stringent penalties and a ban on cannabis products with a THC level exceeding 0.2%, with a renewed focus on medical use only.

Although the new Cannabis and Hemp Act has yet to undergo legislative scrutiny, concerns are mounting among industry stakeholders. Cannabis dispensary owner Soranut “Beer” Masayavanich revealed, “Everyone is talking to lawyers,” underscoring the gravity of the situation.

Benjamin Baskins, CEO of OG Cannab, which operates dispensaries in Bangkok’s bustling tourism hubs, expressed skepticism about the proposal’s viability, stating, “It’s hard to even take seriously.” Baskins highlighted the potential flood of lawsuits that could arise from the sweeping regulatory changes. “How are they going to deal with 7,000 lawsuits from dispensaries, and thousands more from growers?” he questioned.

Advocates for the cannabis industry argue that lawmakers should pursue regulatory reforms that acknowledge and regulate the burgeoning sector rather than stifling its growth. The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce estimated the industry’s worth at nearly USD$800 million by the end of 2022, just six months after decriminalization took effect. Projections suggest the market could reach USD$1.2 billion by 2025.

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