Lifestyle

Thailand works on setting up a cannabis economy



After the liberalisation of Thailand’s cannabis laws in early June, the country’s government seeks to make the nation a “regional hub” for producing cannabis-related products. Hopes are to set up an industry with a volume of at least 25 billion baht ($690 million) annually as a start from the new cash crop, according to Thai industry minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit. “Hemp has become an important plant in many countries now as all parts of it can be turned into various types of products with a high commercial value,” the minister told Bangkok Post. He was referring to the expansion of the…

After the liberalisation of Thailand’s cannabis laws in early June, the country’s government seeks to make the nation a “regional hub” for producing cannabis-related products.

Hopes are to set up an industry with a volume of at least 25 billion baht ($690 million) annually as a start from the new cash crop, according to Thai industry minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit.

“Hemp has become an important plant in many countries now as all parts of it can be turned into various types of products with a high commercial value,” the minister told Bangkok Post.

He was referring to the expansion of the global hemp and medical cannabis market, which has been fueled by the lifting of restrictions placed on the use of cannabis in the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, South Africa, the European Union and some South American countries, most of all Uruguay.

Nearly one million Thais want to grow cannabis

In Thailand, the food and drug administration announced that is has received over 980,000 applications from people for the right to grow marijuana plants, which is a requirement to take part in the industry. Many more are believed to be trying their hand at unregistered home farms.

Cannabis produced and harvested in Thailand could be worth at least 20,000 baht ($553) per rai of land (a rai is a local measurement equivalent to 1,600 square meters). The government is therefore expecting a boost in employment in the agricultural sector.

Alternative income

For many young people in the country, cannabis products are now providing badly needed streams of income following the collapse of tourism, which normally contributes at least about one-fifth to the country’s economy, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thailand’s removal of cannabis from its list of banned narcotics on June 9 was intended only to make it easier for growers and consumers of cannabis products to access the plant for medicinal or culinary purposes. Smoking the drug recreationally remains against the law.

Under the regulations, only the plant extract with less than 0.2 per cent tetrahydrocannabinol – the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis – can be used. So, basically, the “cannabis” products in Thailand are supposed to to be made out of harmless hemp plants.

Cannabis bill still in the making

Nevertheless, recreational use of stronger cannabis has also taken off across the country, driving a nascent business in cannabis buds, cookies and beverages that police are currently unable to handle because of a lack of legal clarity.

A cannabis bill is due before the Thai parliament, and lawmakers are under pressure to get clear about recreational use of the plant which might mean curbing or even fully banning it.



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