Marijuana Policy in Thailand and the Argument for Decriminalization
In Thailand, drug policy, including marijuana policy, has been extremely conservative. However, the drug problem remains unresolved. This paper aims to analyze the problems related to marijuana policy in Thailand and, to discuss possibility for alternative marijuana decriminalization policy. Statistical analysis and a documentary research method are employed in this research. The results show that the number of marijuana offenders incarcerated increased dramatically from 1,011 in 2006 to 4,531 in 2016, a 4.5-fold increase over one decade. In addition, the number of alleged marijuana offenders was 12,396 in 2016. Over the same decade, government spending on drug policies increased 3-fold to 10.68 billion baht in 2016. Moreover, in 2016, the total opportunity cost of drug prisoners was more than 15.34 billion baht. From the amounts shown, the current policy is costly and has been largely unsuccessful; therefore, marijuana decriminalization could be a sensible alternative for Thailand. The legal sanctions for growing, possessing, and using small amounts of marijuana should be reduced to noncriminal sanctions such as warnings, fines, and community service orders. In addition, investment in harm reduction and treatment services should be increased to support the work done by medical professionals and social workers.