Skip to content
Home » Learn » History of Cannabis in Thailand

History of Cannabis in Thailand

    History of Cannabis in Thailand

    Cannabis use in Thailand has been recorded as far back as the 13th century. The earliest textual evidence of cannabis use comes from a study by French explorers who reported seeing it grown in various parts of Southeast Asia, including Thailand. Read on to learn more about the cannabis history of Thailand.

    The plant’s medicinal properties were first recognized by locals during this time and further documented by Chinese herbalists (who also used other plants in their therapies) and European traders who imported it from India or Persia (now Iran) for medical purposes. In fact, due to its wide availability and low cost relative to other drugs, such as opium, it became one of Thailand’s most common drugs until prohibition began in 1916.

    Interested in smoking cannabis in modern times? Check out the best weed stores Thailand has to offer.

    Cannabis usage through the ages

    Cannabis has been used for centuries in Thailand. The earliest traces of cannabis use in Thailand are from the Sukhothai period (13th-17th centuries). Cannabis was used as a medicine and an additive to food, and it was also taken as a religious sacrament.

    In the Ayutthaya period (16th-18th centuries), cannabis was grown in large amounts for this purpose. It was believed that smoking marijuana would allow one to see spirits, which would be helpful for fortune telling.

    During the reign of Rama I (1782-1809), marijuana was banned by law, but it continued to be used anyway because of its medicinal value. In prehistoric Thailand, cannabis was used for its psychoactive effects for smoking, ingestion, and inhaling. According to one source, “The ancient texts of Ayurveda describe marijuana as a medicine that relieves pain and promotes health.” The drug is believed to have been smoked by Thai royalty in ancient times.

    people smoking cannabis out of bongs in historic Thailand

    In the 20th century, Thai society began to change dramatically due to Western influences and modernization efforts. Cannabis became popular among young Thais who were looking for something new or different from what they were familiar with previously. This led to an increase in recreational drug use among young people in Bangkok’s urban areas.

    Outside influence on cannabis in Thailand

    In the early 1900s, cannabis was used in Thailand as traditional medicine. The Thai government decided to prohibit all forms of drug abuse and started to educate people about the harmful effects of drugs in 1938. The ban on opium, morphine and heroin was implemented.

    The government also began to educate people about cannabis usage, but there were no legal restrictions on its use at this time. Cannabis continued to be used in Thailand until after World War II. After World War II, cannabis consumption increased again due to the influence of American culture and business interests in Thailand.

    The Thai government banned cannabis in the late 1930s. However, this ban was not strictly enforced by law enforcement, and there was a lot of a grey area as to what exactly constituted “marijuana.”

    Find out where to find weed delivery in Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai or other area in Thailand.

    Influence of U.S. soldiers in Asia

    The Vietnam War in the early 1960s was a catalyst for the use of cannabis in Thailand. The soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War were exposed not only to marijuana but also heroin. This led to many soldiers getting addicted to these drugs and using them to cope with the stress of their service.

    American soldier smoking cannabis through a shotgun barrel

    While serving in Vietnam, cannabis was used as a form of medicine by some U.S. soldiers. In fact, doctors at one military hospital reported that 80% of their patients were “addicted” to cannabis by 1970. One way it was used was by smoking it to relieve pain and anxiety.

    Large fields of wild-growing marijuana surrounded the U.S. military bases at Nakhon Phanom and Saigon. These drugs were readily available at no cost on the base and used as a coping mechanism by many soldiers. Check out ThaiLawForum for their excellent article on cannabis history in Thailand.


    The history of cannabis in Thailand is long and complex. It can show how global influence has affected society over time. The history of cannabis usage in Thailand is also an essential part of Thai culture, and it has played a role in many aspects of life in Thailand, even today. Many Thais are now enjoying cannabis recreationally, and those who do will continue exploring their own subculture further. Browse all cannabis dispensaries in Thailand right now to find out where to buy weed.