Cannabis tourism is not welcome in Thailand, says Health Minister Anutin Charanvirakul

Cannabis tourism is not welcome in Thailand, says Health Minister Anutin Charanvirakul

Smokers in public exposure can face up to three months in prison or a fine of up to 25,000 baht.

Bangkok:

Thailand’s health minister on Wednesday discouraged tourists from coming into the country just to smoke weed, two months after new legislation was passed that largely decriminalized the drug.

Asked about the use of recreational marijuana among foreign visitors, Anutin Charanveerakul told reporters, “We do not welcome such tourists.”

In 2018, Thailand became the first Southeast Asian country to legalize cannabis for medical use. In June, the entire plant was decriminalized, leading to widespread recreational use.

Despite the government’s pleas against going high, cannabis businesses with special smoking rooms have been a hit with locals and visitors.

But smokers in public exposure face up to three months in prison or a fine of up to 25,000 baht ($705.82).

Anutin’s remarks also come as foreign arrivals in the tourism-dependent country start pouring in. Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy expects 8 million to 10 million arrivals this year, up from an earlier forecast of 7 million.

Last year, the pandemic reduced foreign arrivals to just 428,000, compared to a record of nearly 40 million in 2019.

Thailand has focused its cannabis policy on a 28 billion baht ($790.29 million) industry built around its medical and health benefits.

Anutin said, however, that recreational use may be explored once the drug is better understood.

“It may come in the near future,” he said.

Thailand’s cannabis policy has also drawn interest from regional neighbors such as Malaysia, which is studying the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Indian Lekhak

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