Next week on the 14th May, Thailand is holding their general election with parties attempting to win the support of 52 million voters with cannabis being a key election issue.
The election race is shaping us as a battle between the pro-military conservative group led by Prime Minister Prayu Chan-o-cha against the opposition Pheu Thai party, which is headed by the billionaire Shinawatra family.
Voters will choose the members of parliament which with the appointed Senate will choose a Prime Minister by July.
The role of cannabis in Thailand’s election
One of the key battlegrounds shaping up during the election will be that of cannabis.
The current conservative government shocked many by legalising cannabis in 2022. Legalising cannabis happened practically overnight.
Since then, numerous cannabis stores have opened up throughout the country with many local entrepreneurs attempting to cash in on the new laws.
Yet, the law around cannabis remains uncertain with the government failing to pass the Cannabis and Hemp Act leaving some business in limbo.
Currently, there are age restrictions and people are not allowed to smoke cannabis in public but wider regulation is yet to be agreed upon.
There also remained confusion with tourists over their use of cannabis, with the Health Minister dissuading tourists from visiting the country if they wanted to smoke cannabis.
Local farmers have also voiced their dissatisfaction at imported marijuana undercutting their locally grown plants. Importing cannabis remains illegal, but it is estimated that half of the cannabis sold is coming from abroad.
All parties are attempting to win voters with their policies on marijuana in Thailand’s election. This is whether they are for or against the drug.
Pita Limjaroenrat, the candidate for Prime Minister for the Move Forward Party, wants to put cannabis back on the narcotics list to stop recreational use but favours medicinal use of the drug.
The Pheu Thai Party, led by the Shinawatra family, also wants to tighten the regulations around cannabis with the use for medicinal purposes still being allowed.
Fears remain from Thai people that have entered the marijuana industry that the election could harm their future operations.
It is the Bhumjaithai Party that could possibly be the kingmakers in Thailand’s upcoming election.
They won 51 seats in the previous election, allowing them to partner with the government coalition and were key in pushing through the cannabis legislation.
They hope to double their number of seats this time around with the strong support of Thailand’s northeast region of Buriram.
However, they have also warned of the dangers of recreational marijuana but noted the importance the drug can have as an economic boost to the poorer areas of the nation.
Although marijuana is a trending topic in Thailand’s election, many people have larger worries, particular in the northeast where poverty remains prevalent.
The Thailand election is expected to be a tight affair and could have big consequences for the burgeoning cannabis industry in the nation.