Thailand’s health minister on Wednesday discouraged tourists from visiting the country just to smoke weed, just two months after new laws were passed to crack down on the drug. treatment.
“We don’t welcome those kinds of tourists,” Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters when asked about recreational marijuana use among tourists.
In 2018, Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize cannabis for medical use. In June, the entire plant was destroyed, leading to recreational use.
Despite the government’s request against the increase, cannabis businesses with special smoking rooms are closed to locals and foreigners.
But those who smoke in public face up to three months in prison or a fine of up to 25,000 baht ($705.82).
An employee prepares cannabis for customers at Happy Bud, a cannabis stand on Khaosan Road in Bangkok.
Anutin’s comments come as visitors begin to arrive in the tourism-dependent country. Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy expects 8 million to 10 million arrivals this year, up from an earlier forecast of 7 million.
Last year, the pandemic reduced the number of visitors to just 428,000, compared to a record of 40 million in 2019.
Thailand has focused its cannabis policy on the 28 billion baht ($790.29 million) industry built around its health and wellness benefits.
Anutin said, however, that recreational use can only be explored when there is a good understanding of the drug.
“It might happen in the future,” he said.
Thailand’s cannabis policy has also attracted interest from regional neighbors such as Malaysia, which is studying the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
Top photo: A container with cannabis in a dispensary shop in Bangkok, Thailand on August 17, 2022. Credit: Athit Perawongmetha / REUTERS