Anutin Pushes for Wider Legalization of Cannabis Substances

A file photo of health minister Anutin Charnvirakul

BANGKOK — The government is aiming to loosen more laws on the use of marijuana plants, including a proposal to decriminalize the THC-rich flowers and buds, health minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters.

Under the current law, which was amended in 2020 as part of a wider reform on drugs, only the leaves and stems of a cannabis plant can be used in food and recreational purposes, but Anutin said the Public Health Ministry is pushing for legalization of the entire plant. He did not mention any specific timeline, but said the move could be possible by “next year.”

Anutin made the pledge during his tour of a cannabis farm in Nakhon Phanom province.

The minister said the amendment will allow the use of parts like stems, roots, sprigs, leaves, buds, flowers, and seeds.

The current legislation only covered parts of the cannabis plant with low traces of psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, like the leaves. The flowers and buds remained banned as a Category 5 narcotic, since those parts were typically rich in THC.

Lawmakers argue the partial ban on use of cannabis parts is necessary to prevent commercialization for drug-trafficking purposes. But Anutin said parts of marijuana containing less than 0.2% THC should also be legalized in order to boost local economy and support agricultural innovation.

At the tour of the marijuana farm, Anutin urged the public to start growing cannabis for some extra income. Those with permission from the government can grow cannabis and there is no cap on how many plants each household can grow.