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Thailand to ban recreational cannabis use by year-end, says health minister


Thailand to ban recreational cannabis use by year-end, says health minister

Thailand will ban recreational use of marijuana by the end of this year but continue to allow its use for medical purposes, the health minister told Reuters in an interview.

After Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia to free up medicinal use in 2018, and then recreational use in 2022, tens of thousands of cannabis shops have sprung up in an industry projected to be worth up to US$1.2 billion by next year.

Critics say piecemeal rules were rushed out and adopted within a week of decriminalisation, and the government has drafted a new law to regulate cannabis use that is expected to take effect by year-end.

The draft bill will go to cabinet for approval next month before heading to parliament to be passed before the end of the year, Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew said.

"Without the law to regulate cannabis it will be misused," Cholnan said on Wednesday, referring to recreational use.

"The misuse of cannabis has a negative impact on Thai children," he added. "In the long run it could lead to other drugs."