By / May 29, 2023

Will the Move Forward Party Do an About-Face on Thai Cannabis Legalization?

The recent elections in Thailand, where the Move Forward party ousted the conservative party that had decriminalized cannabis, have raised concerns among Thai cannabis entrepreneurs.

The newly-elected party has put forward a proposal that could undo the country’s pioneering legalization that came into effect in June last year.

For now, however, it is yet to be seen whether the proposal will move forward. To follow the development of this story over the coming weeks and months, along with all the latest in legalization from around the world, download our free cannabis news app.

Move Forward Aims to Move Backwards

A proposal by Move Forward aims to reclassify cannabis as a controlled substance one year after its decriminalization.

While the legal framework is still quite permissive and no agreement had been reached on legalization by the previous government, 12,000 businesses have been granted cannabis operation permits. Additionally, around 1.1 million people have registered with the government to cultivate cannabis at home.

The prospect of stricter regulations being introduced by the Move Forward has not necessarily been well-received by the cannabis community.

Move Forward Faces Strong Opposition

Around 5,200 individuals and 200 businesses have signed an online petition stating that reclassifying cannabis as a controlled substance would be a violation of people’s rights. Even young progressives who helped the Move Forward party achieve victory feel betrayed.

“I thought they were supposed to move forward,” lamented Mr. Suphamet Hetrakul of Teera Ventures, a cannabis farm owner and wholesaler, to Reuters, referring to Move Forward’s stance. “A U-turn would damage Thailand’s credibility.”

Considering the proliferation of stores, cultivators, and consumers, can the Move Forward party completely reverse course on cannabis legalization in Thailand?

Regulating the Market

The Move Forward proposal aims to “reclassify cannabis as a controlled substance… with new laws regulating and supporting its beneficial uses.” While the details are not known, it can be understood that Move Forward ultimately wants to control cannabis and oversee its market.

Last Thursday, a representative of the Move Forward party, Sirikanya Tansakun, defended the cannabis reclassification project, stating that it was necessary to put an end to the Thai legal vacuum around cannabis. However, she promised that businesses would receive support when the party introduced regulations in Parliament.

Move Forward Unlikely to Introduce a Full Crackdown

While there appears to be little prospect of a crackdown, Tansakun stated that unlicensed street vendors and drug smuggling imports would be halted.

“Those who have invested legally will be protected and able to continue their operations,” the Move Forward representative told reporters.

(Featured image by FredTC (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Wikimedia Commons)

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