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APEC host Thailand's budding cannabis industry faces backlash

Near the grand conference halls in central Bangkok, where Asian leaders will meet this week, a plethora of cannabis shops - the Thai capital's newest tourist draw - were bustling despite a controversy that threatens the growing sector. Since Thailand decriminalized cannabis this year, shops selling homegrown and imported strains, pre-rolled joints, and gummies sprang up rapidly.

New cafes with names such as MagicLeaf and High Society are located just minutes from the meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. But the proliferation of such businesses has sparked a backlash from some politicians and doctors who say the change was pushed through without regulation and are now calling for tougher rules or even a new ban.

A cannabis regulation bill to govern cultivation, sale, and consumption has been delayed in parliament, causing confusion over just aspects that will be legal. "We're in a vacuum," one senator, Somchai Sawangkarn, told a domestic broadcaster on Wednesday, adding that announcements by the health ministry had not curbed recreational use.

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