Thailand is rapidly shifting its stance on hemp and cannabis generally, eager to take part in a multi-billion dollar industry and provide additional therapies for its citizens.
Prior to prohibition, Thailand had a long association with cannabis. But as in many other countries, hemp was collateral damage in tackling issues relating to marijuana. Possession, sale, and use of cannabis was criminalised in Thailand by the Cannabis Act in 1935.
Things began to change again back in 2016 when Thailand’s military government decided it would reclassify cannabis and industrial hemp. Then in 2019, Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health announced some forms of cannabis will be struck from its list of Category 5 drugs under certain circumstances, after the country became the first East Asian nation to legalize medical marijuana.
The situation has continued to progress since and the New Straits Times reports the country plans to legalise all parts of the cannabis plant next year after it was removed from the new Narcotics code, which was released last Thursday.
From next year, buds and flowers with equal to or less than 0.2% THC and seeds will be legalised, adding to the same status for cannabis stems, roots, leaves and sprigs currently.
Thai households will also be able to grow cannabis without a licence, assuming they have permission from local authorities. Public Health Minister and leader of the Bhumjaithai Party Anutin Charnvirakul has encouraged households to start growing cannabis to make extra money. They may be able to make quite a bit of it given there is no restriction on the number of plants that can be grown.
Another major step recently taken was the signing of an agreement for a new medical cannabis research venture. The International Medical Cannabis Research Center will bring together doctors, researchers and other experts to exchange knowledge and carry out research and product development.
Hard hit by not only the health impacts of the pandemic but also on the economic front, the Thai government hopes the Center, and medicinal cannabis more broadly, will be among the catalysts supporting the country’s economic recovery.