Thailand legalizes growing, consumption of marijuana

STORY: Thailand has eased the rules on cannabis - allowing people to grow the plant at home… but smoking pot is still banned.

It is the first Asian country to do so, in a region known for its tough anti-drug laws.

The new changes also allow the consumption of marijuana in food and drinks, with the aim of boosting Thailand’s agriculture and tourism sectors.

Rittipong Dachkul said he had been queueing from the night before to witness "the beginning of change"

"There are pros and cons to cannabis. Although we haven’t seen the bad side of it - it’s a good thing that cannabis has been decriminalized. We are now able to easily find it, we don’t have to worry about the source of it, or have no idea about its quality or how it has been cultivated. Right now, people can find 100% organic or medical-grade cannabis at these shops.”

Thailand was also the first country in Asia to legalize medicinal marijuana use in 2018, as it is commonly used for pain relief.

The government is planning to give away a million plants to encourage farmers to take up its cultivation.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said that "smoking that creates a nuisance to others" and smoking while driving will be remain illegal.

"One of the main discussions the cabinet talked about today mainly was about the way people should behave follow the declassification of cannabis and hemp from Narcotics under Category 5 of the Narcotics Act. Starting from June 9, people can consume and smoke both cannabis and hemp, but certain behavior has to be controlled."

Authorities have decided to limit the strength of the cannabis products that are now legal – which will rule out smokers of the drug known as ‘pot’ and ‘weed’ from getting high.

And those who break the law can still face jail and fines.

Cannabis growers have to register on a government app called PlookGanja, or grow ganja. According to the health ministry nearly 100,000 people have already signed up to the app.

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