Cannabis cafes the newest addition to Thailand’s tourism choices

The RG420 hashish cafe opened simply 4 days in the past in Khao San, an space of Bangkok well-liked with backpackers – and already it is filled with clients.

A number of such shops have sprung up throughout the capital since Thailand decriminalized the plant in June, a number of weeks earlier than it dropped COVID-linked controls on international guests.

International arrivals shrank to 2 million within the first half of 2022 from practically 40 million in 2019, and RG420’s proprietor Ongard Panyachatiraksa and others like him view their cafes as central to efforts to revive a tourism trade that contributed about 12% to GDP earlier than the pandemic struck.

He mentioned a whole lot have been visiting the cafe day-after-day, and he plans to open others.

“Europeans, Japanese, Americans — they are looking for Thai sativa,” Ong-ard advised Reuters, referring to a hashish pressure. “Cannabis and tourism are a match.”

Not everybody agrees.

In 2018, Thailand grew to become the primary Southeast Asian nation to legalise marijuana for medical use. In June, the whole hashish plant was decriminalized.

That has led to an explosion in its leisure use, one thing that authorities officers – involved about detrimental results on well being and productiveness usually linked to uncontrolled use of the drug – have retropectively tried to discourage.

“The law does not cover recreational cannabis use… and so tourism promotion is focused on medical (aspects),” the nationwide tourism authority’s Deputy Governor, Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, mentioned.

The pushback in opposition to the best way the brand new coverage is being interpreted has prompted some confusion, with authorities resorting to issuing piecemeal rules such banning public smoking of hashish and its sale to under-20s.

A parliamentary committee is now debating a invoice to control hashish use that’s anticipated to finalize in September and will affect the hashish cafes.

Akira Wongwan, a medical hashish entrepreneur and one of many committee’s advisers, mentioned she anticipated leisure use to be topic to zoning legal guidelines.

In the meantime, within the crowded smoking room at RG420 — a reference to Rag Gan, a Thai expression that means “love each other” — Briton Malik Khan has simply completed rolling a joint.

“This country is beautiful, and there’s so much to do here as well,” the 26-year-old mentioned. “It (cannabis) adds to the scene really nicely.”