Offenses Related to Drugs

Drug-Related Offences

Thailand enforces stringent drug laws, as outlined in the Measure for Suppressing Narcotic Offenders Act of 1991, alongside the Narcotic Act of 1979 and the Psychotropic Substances Act of 1975. The country's legal framework for drug offenses has been further strengthened by the recent introduction of a new Narcotics Code, reinforcing Thailand's commitment to combating narcotics abuse and trafficking.

The legal system in Thailand is known for its rigorous enforcement of laws aimed at suppressing and criminalizing drug abuse and trafficking. There have been instances where foreigners, unfamiliar with the strictness of Thai law, have faced significant penalties for possessing or using controlled substances. It is crucial for both residents and visitors to familiarize themselves with Thailand's drug laws, which may differ markedly from those in Western countries and other jurisdictions.

Difference Between Psychotropic Substances and Narcotics

1. In the Psychotropic Substances Act, the term means any psychotropic substance which is a natural substance or is derived from a natural substance or any psychotropic substance which is a synthetic substance as notified by the Minister in the Government Gazette, which is classified into four categories, known in the Act as Schedules:

  • Schedule I – psychotropic substances with no medical use and have a high potential for abuse.
  • Schedule II – psychotropic substances with current medical use and have a potential for abuse.
  • Schedule III – psychotropic substances with current medical use and have a potential or a tendency for abuse.
  • Schedule IV – psychotropic substances with current medical use and have a lower potential or tendency for abuse than the substances listed in Schedule III.

2. In the Narcotics Act narcotics are defined as any form of chemicals or substances which, upon being consumed, whether by taking orally, inhaling, smoking, injecting, or by whatever means, cause physiological or mental effects in a significant manner such as the need for a continual increase of dosage, having withdrawal symptoms when deprived of the narcotics, strong physical and mental need of dosage and the health, in general, being deteriorated, and also includes plant or parts of plants which are or give the product as narcotics or may be used to produce narcotics and chemicals used for the production of such narcotics as notified by the Minister in the Government Gazette, but excludes certain formulas of household medicine under the law on drugs that contain narcotic ingredients. Section 7 of the Narcotics Act classified the Narcotics into five categories:

  • category I include dangerous narcotics like heroin;
  • category II includes ordinary narcotics like codeine, cocaine, morphine, and medicinal opium;
  • category III includes narcotics that are medicinal and contain narcotics from category II as ingredients (as indicated by the Minister);
  • category IV includes chemicals used for producing narcotics in category I or category II like acetyl chloride and acetic anhydride;
  • category V includes narcotics that are not included in category I to category IV.

Provided that the names of narcotics shall be specified by the Minister in accordance with Section 8. For the purpose of this Section, medicinal opium means processed opium to be used for medicinal purposes.

What Do You Need to Know About Drug Offenses in Thailand?

The drug trade's persistence in Southeast Asia means that convictions for drug smuggling, possession, or related offenses in Thailand are not uncommon among foreigners. Arrests can occur under various circumstances, highlighting the importance of vigilance to avoid being unwittingly involved in drug offenses. It is advisable for tourists to exercise caution, particularly from those seeking to exploit vulnerable visitors.

To safeguard against such risks, always secure your luggage and refrain from transporting packages into Thailand, even if they come from individuals you trust. The unfortunate reality is that trust can be misplaced, potentially implicating you in drug-related crimes.For medical tourists or those requiring medication for legitimate health issues, it is critical to understand which drugs are legally permissible in Thailand. Researching and adhering to the legal process for obtaining and carrying prescription medications can prevent unintended legal complications.

Additionally, be aware of any food items that may be subject to restrictions and consult the local Health Department's website for accurate and reliable information.Many foreigners mistakenly assume that drug regulations and the legality of personal use are consistent across countries, leading to arrests at airports or popular tourist spots. It's important to remember that tourists are subject to the same legal scrutiny as locals by law enforcement, which can be an unsettling realization.
While the illegality of substances such as heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and ketamine is widely recognized, the legal status of marijuana and certain medications, like codeine, varies significantly around the world. If you find yourself under suspicion by authorities in Thailand, cooperating and seeking legal assistance promptly is crucial.

Juslaws is equipped to provide support in such situations. Contact us to learn how we can assist you in navigating Thailand's legal landscape and safeguarding your rights.


Juslaws & Consult boasts a significant track record of successfully managing a wide array of drug and narcotics-related cases. Our confidence in handling such sensitive matters stems from our consistent success and deep understanding of the legal intricacies involved. Should you seek further information or wish to consult with us regarding drug and narcotics laws and cases, we are eager to share our expertise. We encourage you to reach out without hesitation to initiate a discussion. Your legal safety and clarity on these matters are our top priorities. Please contact us to explore how we can assist you.

See also:

From arrest to acquittal: How to defend a successful drug case in Thailand