The conservative kingdom with a Buddhist majority has long applied a very severe legislative arsenal against this drug, contributing to fill the country’s overcrowded prisons even more.

But authorities, seeking to grab a slice of the lucrative cannabis-based food and medicine market, have gradually relaxed the rules in recent years.

After legalizing its therapeutic use in 2018, the government removed the plant from its list of narcotics on June 9.

Thais can now grow it, sell it and consume it in food products.

These must contain less than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the molecule that gives marijuana its psychotropic effects.

And, unlike Uruguay and Canada, recreational use remains prohibited, still exposing the offender to fines or even jail time.

Proponents of cannabis legalization, who were attending a lakeside festival west of Bangkok this weekend, however, welcome the milestone.

“Thai people cooked, treated themselves, made cannabis products for centuries before the plant was banned. To be able to use it freely again is simply incredible,” Arun Avery told AFP. one of the organizers of the event.

Not far from there, Victor Zheng, owner of Nature Masters, a specialized shop, gives advice on culture to his many visitors.

Others try their hand at hashish brownies, the bong which allows you to get “high” even more quickly, or the simple firecracker… with a high THC content.

Steve Cannon, an American jazz musician who has lived in Thailand for 15 years, is no longer afraid of the police.

For him, the new reform paves the way for the decriminalization of marijuana, held in small quantities.

“If I had 20 kilos in my truck it would be different, but if I only have one or two joints in my pocket, the police will have no reason to bother me. They will focus more on other drugs illegal,” he said.

– Prudence – 

Several observers nevertheless urge, given the current vagueness of the texts, great caution, especially the many tourists returning to the kingdom after more than two years of pandemic.

Since June 9, more than 3,000 prisoners held for cannabis-related offenses have been released, according to Justice Department data.

And the Ministry of Public Health intends to distribute one million cannabis plants, in order to boost cultivation and ultimately stimulate the agricultural sector and tourism.

“We need to know how to use this plant,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health Anutin Charnvirakul said recently. “If the population is properly sensitized, cannabis is something precious, as much as gold, and it must be promoted”.

Over the next decade, the legal market for the plant could be worth between $50 billion and $200 billion, experts say, as more countries ease its production for food and medical purposes.

Thai companies are already trying to take advantage of this liberalization.

Charoen Pokphand, a gigantic conglomerate specializing in agribusiness, telecommunications and retail, announced last month that it wanted to develop food products and drinks infused with CBD, a molecule found in cannabis.