Thailand’s health minister has signed the cannabis bill banning the recreational use of marijuana.

Thailand’s Health Minister Cholnan Srikajeev has signed the proposed hemp bill, emphasising that marijuana cannot be used for recreational purposes, the Bangkok Post reports. Once the cabinet approves, the bill will go to the lower house of parliament for consideration.

A ruling by Thailand’s Department of Traditional and Alternative Medicine, which lists cannabis as a controlled plant, may have to be revised if it contradicts the new law, Dr Cholnan told the newspaper.

“The new law clearly states that only medical use of cannabis is allowed. The law also encourages the use of cannabis for various health benefits,” Dr Cholnan told us after the bill was signed into law.

“In terms of recreational use of cannabis, there are clear measures to control and prevent this,” he added.

“The measures will be in the form of a ministerial regulation approved by the cabinet or a commission regulation,” the health minister explained.

“The question of whether or not a medical certificate will be required to buy marijuana is not yet included in the bill. It will probably depend on the enforcement of the laws,” the minister informed.

However, the use of marijuana at home for medical purposes should be based on proper medical procedures and research,” Dr Cholnan added.

Asked about the impact of the law on operating marijuana shops, Dr Cholnan explained that there are no laws revoking the operating licences of legally registered shops yet. However, once the law comes into effect, marijuana shops must only sell parts of the cannabis plant that are considered legal in Thailand.

Under the Narcotics Code, only products containing more than 0.2 per cent of tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive substance in cannabis, are considered illegal. The law will help police apprehend those misusing marijuana for recreational purposes,” Dr Cholnan said.

A marijuana shop on Khaosan Street in Bangkok

Meanwhile, links to Thailand have been discovered after a large shipment of drugs was intercepted overseas. According to news reports, €1.1 million worth of marijuana was seized in Ireland on 4 January. Also, 14.2 kilograms of drugs worth almost €285,000 were found by customs inspectors in parcels sent from Thailand and addressed to Dublin areas.

The largest of the four seizures, estimated at €500,000, was made in Klein. Authorities searched a house where they found 25 kilos of the drug and arrested a 30-year-old woman. In addition to Thailand, shipments of marijuana destined for Dublin were sent from France and Spain.

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