Science

These cannabis-smoking tourists Thailand doesn’t want

The number of shops selling cannabis and derivative products is increasing as the plant is no longer listed as a drug. Lilian SUVANRUMFA / AFP

The kingdom legalized its consumption in June. Since then, new businesses have sprung up that are favored by foreign visitors, which is not exactly to the taste of the authorities.

In Thailand, cannabis is no longer classified as a drug. The country decriminalized its recreational use on June 9. A relaxation of rules that could well encourage tourism, while the kingdom has just lifted all Covid-related restrictions on arrivals. But the authorities are waiting: the kingdom does not need foreigners who will come only to smoke marijuana. “We do not welcome such tourists,” Thai Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said at a press conference.

Within a few weeks, the number of businesses selling cannabis skyrocketed in the kingdom and had some success with residents and tourists alike. The plant is now being sold “at market stalls, beach clubs and even hotel receptions,” according to the British daily newspaper The Guardian. Shampoos, soaps, cakes… By-products multiply.

French embassy warning

The French Embassy in Thailand, in a warning posted on its website on August 17, urges residents and tourists passing by to be careful about using cannabis in public places. “Smoking marijuana and cannabis in public places remains illegal in Thailand. Anyone who uses cannabis in public places is subject to a fine of 25,000 baht (about 700 euros) and three months in prison,” she emphasizes. And add: “On the other hand, we urge our citizens to be careful due to the large number of recent two-wheeler accidents after drug use.”

Thailand is one of the few countries in Southeast Asia that has legalized cannabis. The local press reports that three Thais were imprisoned upon arrival in neighboring Malaysia for having traces of marijuana in their bodies after a urine test.

Other tourist destinations plan to further control the sale of cannabis to foreign visitors. The mayor of Amsterdam would like to limit access to “coffee houses” only to residents of the Netherlands. The corresponding law already exists at the national level, but in fact, few enterprises apply it. In the Dutch capital, more than three million tourists visit these famous cafes every year.

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