Changing Face of Thai Society: The Legalization of Marijuana

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Changing Face of Thai Society: The Legalization of Marijuana
Despite Thailand's loosening of marijuana restrictions for medical use, addiction rates have spiked, altering Thai society.

According to a report from Japanese media outlet TV Asahi on October 14th, 2022, Thailand has significantly relaxed restrictions on the use of marijuana. While it was originally intended for "medical purposes" only, cannabis shops are now visible everywhere in the bustling districts of the capital city, Bangkok. However, this legalization of marijuana is also contributing to a rapid increase in the number of cannabis addicts, thereby bringing about a transformation of Thai society.


Temples in Bangkok offer free 15-day rehabilitation programs for drug addicts. Participants are required to consume a specially brewed herbal tea, which has been steeped for 30 days, and enter a sauna to sweat out toxins. The sauna room, which can accommodate around 20 people at a time, is often overcrowded.


People who participate in the rehabilitation program arrive on the second floor of the building at the designated time and sit down to chant and meditate. According to the deputy abbot, this rehabilitation program has been ongoing for over 60 years and there is still hope that it will continue to serve more people.


Since June last year, marijuana has been removed from the list of "regulated drugs" in Thailand, resulting in a continuous increase in the number of patients using it. Many innocent children in Thailand are now getting involved with marijuana. The approval for personal use and wellness cultivation has brought about a radical change in Thai society. While it is for "medical purposes," a prescription is not required, and in fact, it can be freely purchased even for "recreational purposes." On this matter, Dr. Amon from Chulalongkorn University stated, "The legalization of marijuana also signifies an economic revitalization." The Thai tourism industry has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, causing substantial damage to the country's predominant tourism sector.


After marijuana was removed from the controlled substance list in Thailand, regulations have become unclear and the country has descended into a state of lawlessness amidst national elections and a change in government. This chaos has caused the "green wave" to spread to the northern region of Thailand, hundreds of kilometers away from Bangkok. In the outskirts of Chiang Mai, the country's second largest city, a farmer immediately converted one-third of his farmland from vegetables to marijuana cultivation following the legalization of the plant. Sales have increased three to four times compared to before, and the number of employees has also risen by eight. The farmer obtained government permission to grow marijuana and expressed concerns about the increasing prevalence of the plant in society.


The rapid spread of the "green wave" is also related to people's "misconceptions". Dr. Amon believes this is because some individuals, after engaging in online discussions, have come to realize that marijuana is not as dangerous as they initially thought. However, this is actually incorrect.


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