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Drugs | General Information

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  • Drugs | General Information

    Do not become involved with drugs of any kind. Possession of even very small quantities can lead to imprisonment. If you’re found guilty of being in possession of 20 grams of a Class A drug on exiting Thailand you risk receiving the death penalty. Amphetamines and ecstasy are regarded as Class A drugs and possession or trafficking carries the same penalty as heroin. As of 9 June 2022, private recreational use of cannabis is legal if THC content is below 0.2% by weight, but cannabis use in public places remains illegal. Cultivation, consumption, distribution and sales of cannabis products is legal, although some restrictions remain in place - you should check with the relevant local authorities if you are unsure. More information on usage and registration can be found on PR Thai Government Website

    Narcotics Categories in Thailand
    • 1– heroin, amphetamines (ecstasy), methamphetamines (Yaba and Ice)
    • 2 – morphine, cocaine, ketamine, codeine, opium and medicinal opium, methadone
    • 3 – medicinal drugs which legally contain Category II ingredients
    • 4 – chemicals used to make Category I and II narcotics, like anhydride and acetyl chloride
    • 5 – marijuana, the Kratom plant, hallucinogenic mushroom
    Possessing and Consuming Drugs in Thailand

    Thailand’s top 4 drug possession cases in the last three years have been related to the following drugs: Yaba, dried marijuana, Ice, raw opium. The cases of Yaba possession, a popular methamphetamine, exceed any of the others, with 30,031 allegations of Yaba possession alone in 2008. Since Yaba is a methamphetamine, if you are caught with possession for personal use of it or any other Category I substance, you could risk one to ten years in prison and/or a fine of 20.000 to 200.000 THB If you are caught carrying more than twenty grams of Yaba (or any other Category I drug, like Ice or Ecstasy) you’ll be eligible for ‘intent to sell’ penalties, the most severe of which is the death penalty. While Yaba is a drug commonly abused and sold by Thai citizens, marijuana and heroin are more likely to be found on backpackers and tourists. Heroin, like Yaba, is a Category I drug and carries the aforementioned penalties. Neither marijuana possession for personal use nor intent to sale carries the death penalty. However, if you have up to ten kilograms of marijuana (or any other Category V drug) in your possession, you are liable for personal use penalties, which are up to five years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to one hundred thousand baht. Cocaine is also a drug purchased by tourists in Thailand. Category II drugs, like cocaine and the smuggled drugs ketamine and codeine, are considered for illegal personal use in any amount of one hundred grams or less and punishable with up to five years in prison and/or up to one hundred thousand baht.

    Category II drugs can be considered legal drugs if you carry a medical certificate or prescription written by a licensed medical doctor or dentist; or if you have applied for and been granted a permit by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before your arrival in Thailand. Even with a certificate, prescription or FDA permit, you are only allowed to enter Thailand with an amount of medication for thirty days use or less. Amphetamines, Dexamphetamine, Cannabis, THC, and Cathinone are always considered illegal and never allowed in and out of Thailand whether you have obtained medical permission or not. See the Customs section for more information about declaring prescription medications upon entry to and exit from Thailand.

    The term “Club drugs” is also getting the attention of Thai authorities in recent years. These drugs include: ecstasy, cocaine, ketamine and Ice. Police are known to randomly raid nightclubs that turn a blind eye to drug use and dealing, and that are frequented by young foreign tourists and/or young Thais. Possession aside, if a law enforcement official has grounds to believe you have taken a Category I, II or V narcotic, he or she can detain you and request authorization to test you. Refusing a test or examination can result in imprisonment for up to six months and/or a fine of up to 10.000 THB. You can face imprisonment from six months to three years and/or a fine of 10.000 to 60.000 THB if you test positive for a Category I or II drug, like Yaba, cocaine, Ice or ecstasy; and imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine of up to 20.000 THB if you test positive for a Category V drug, like marijuana or Kratom. There are laws protecting you If you take drugs and feel like you are dangerously disoriented or at risk for overdose and then choose to check yourself into a medical facility. If you are able to check into a medical facility before being caught by a law enforcement official and you have not broken any Thai laws other than consuming drugs, you are eligible to be excused from penalties.

    Selling and Smuggling

    West Africans living in Thailand are randomly investigated by the Immigration Bureau and Thai drug enforcement agencies for selling drugs and organizing drug smuggling operations. The Immigration Bureau identifies West Africans from Nigeria, Mali and Ghana, and the East Africa Republic of Kenya as foreigners watched closely for connections to drug activity. Other groups of foreigners suspected of drug activity in Thailand are Southeast Asian Chinese, Iranians, Indians, Pakistanis, and Nepalese. Iranian groups have been recently investigated for smuggling Ice into Thailand through international airports. The northern border of Thailand is the most frequently used route for drug smuggling followed by borders along the Mekong River and international airports. Foreign women traveling alone in Thailand should be especially aware that drug smugglers often use females to carry drugs within the country and over borders. There have even been instances of women unknowingly accepting and carrying packages or suitcases containing drugs across land borders and through international airports.


    It is illegal to import more than 200 cigarettes per person into Thailand. This is enforced at customs on arrival. Those who exceed the limit may be fined ten times the value of the items and face confiscation of the cigarettes. In January 2018, Thai authorities introduced a smoking ban on some beaches, including in Koh Samui, Pattaya and in Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri and Songkhla provinces. Those caught smoking in non-designated areas face a 100,000 baht fine or up to a year in prison. There are also strict rules on the disposal of all forms of waste, especially polystyrene and plastic, and any act that can cause damage to coastal areas. You should follow local guidance. On 27 March 2020 the Thai Department of Disease Control linked the smoking of cigarettes to the impact of coronavirus. Smoking in public could result in a fine of up to 5,000 Baht. This includes electronic cigarettes which are illegal in Thailand and their use may incur further fines or imprisonment. Electronic cigarettes are already illegal in Thailand and their use may incur further fines or imprisonment. Vaporisers (like e-cigarettes and e-baraku) and refills are illegal in Thailand. These items may be confiscated and you could be fined or sent to prison for up to 10 years if convicted. Their sale or supply is also banned and you could face a heavy fine or up to 5 years imprisonment if found guilty.

  • #2
    How can Thailand win its war on drugs?

    As Thailand begins the latest round of its war on drugs, Thai PBS paints a pretty bleak picture of the prospects for a quick victory. This is no metaphorical war. This is an armed struggle, with well-drilled militaries on every side. According to the news provider, production of methamphetamine by organised crime syndicates has resulted in a sharp drop in production costs, making the drug easily affordable. This is a major headache for Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia determined to wage war.

    The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report released in May declared that more than one billion meth pills were seized in South and Southeast Asia last year, 89% in the lower Mekong region. The report corresponds with figures released by Thailand’s Narcotics Control Board. From last October to August this year, more than 450 million pills were confiscated in Thailand. Another million pills, 18,000 kilograms of crystals, and 1,500 tonnes of production materials were seized during the same period in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. A bag of 100 meth pills costs about 50 baht (US$1.30) to produce. That amount will bring in 1,500 baht (US$40) on the street. But this is not a mere price war. In the Golden Triangle, labs under the control of the United Wa State Army – a force of some twenty-thousand fighters and the largest of Myanmar’s various ethnic armed organisations – can produce seven million tabs a day following the arrival of state-of-the-art equipment.

    The UWSA have transformed Mong Yawng township, about a hundred kilometres from the Thai border, into their capital of production and distribution. China’s Guangdong province has long been known to be the main source of precursor chemicals. According to the UNODC, the chemists involved are quite innovative in experimenting with new chemicals when others become scarce.