5th August 2021
Read time: 2 minutes
Thailand has become the first southeast Asian country to legalize cannabis for medical use. Cannabis was originally introduced into Thailand from India, and until it was outlawed in the 1930s, it was historically used as a kitchen condiment, medicine and source of fiber.
The law legalizing medical marijuana essentially excludes all foreign companies, as well as foreign majority companies incorporated in Thailand, from producing, selling, importing, exporting and processing cannabis as well as other exclusions. This move has been viewed as an effort to protect local companies from an onslaught of highly capitalized foreign entities. The Narcotics Act of 2019 is a modification of the Narcotics Act of 1979. While the recreational use of the substance remains illegal, Thai citizens can now apply for cannabis treatment for 1 or more of 38 registered medical conditions.
The Thailand cannabis bloom
Hemp is known for its strong fiber, which can be made into rope, paper, clothing and other products, and parts of the hemp plant can be processed to make medicine, food and cosmetics. Thai households can now grow up to six pots of cannabis, helping to supply crop to public hospitals and state facilities, or use them to make food and cosmetics to supplement income.
Although hemp and cannabis are in the same family, Thai regulatory authorities differentiate between them because hemp is nearly THC-free (must be under at least 0.2% by weight).7 This difference in potency will be the focus of medical cannabis testing regulations, which are still in the works, to distinguish hemp from marijuana, given that they are essentially the same plant chemically.
Thailand is a budding cannabis market that includes both hemp and marijuana. The market value of cannabis in Thailand is estimated to be between US$660 million and US$2.5 billion by 2024.4 All eyes are on the global legalization of marijuana, and with the varied regulations in the US compared to the uniform federal regulations in Canada, it will be interesting to see if Thailand follows either of these approaches in terms of recreational use and testing standards.
DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE.
1. New Announcement Of Cannabis Legalization In Thailand-February 8 2021 Herrera & Partners