Thailand, which had a tradition of using cannabis to relieve pain and fatigue, legalised cannabis for medical use & research last year – does this mean the cannabis industry is expanding to the East?
Developing a medical cannabis industry is among top policy priorities for Thailand’s new government, according to a document released before the formal announcement.
The developing cannabis industry in South East Asia
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the former junta leader who heads a civilian government following March elections, is due to set out the policies for debate in the national assembly on Thursday. The policy document was released on 21 July 2019.
Developing the medical cannabis industry was a key demand of the Bhumjaithai party, one of the biggest parties in Prayuth’s 19-party coalition.
The policy document detailed the following: ‘The study and technological development of marijuana, hemp, and other medicinal herbs should be sped up for the medical industry to create economic opportunity and income for the people’.
Boosting the economy
Thailand, which had a tradition of using cannabis to relieve pain and fatigue, legalised cannabis for medical use and research last year.
Bhumjaithai party leader Anutin Charnvirakul, now a Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister, said his goal was to enable all Thais to grow cannabis to improve the economy of the country.
Anutin told local media it was important to remove hemp with a high level of cannabidiol (CBD) from the list of banned drugs for cultivation and then to free up hospitals to prescribe drugs containing the chemical compound.
Ensuring the drug is not abused
According to Chokwan Kitty Chopaka, spokeswoman for Highland Network, a cannabis legalisation advocacy group: a fall in rice, sugar and rubber crop prices may have influenced the government’s decision to legalise cannabis for medical use, as it seeks to cash in on a rapidly growing industry.
Nevertheless, Thailand’s decision to legalise cannabis for medical purposes has raised concerns over exploitation of the new law and warnings to the public not to forget that general and recreational use of the drug is still illegal.