Thailand to Give 1 Million Herbs

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Thailand said it plans to distribute one million cannabis plants to households across the country to spark enthusiasm for a law that will go into effect next month and would allow residents to grow weed for their personal medicinal use or on a small-scale commercial basis. attempt.

The project, announced this week by the country’s health minister, is the latest move in Thailand’s effort to position itself as a leader in Asia’s emerging cannabis industry and comes as the US and other major economies liberalize their cannabis laws. medical benefits.

Industry analysts say the moves could help attract more international visitors to Thailand and strengthen medical tourism in a country where an expanding tourism sector accounted for one-fifth of the pre-Covid economy.

But don’t expect California-style cannabis retailers on your next trip to Bangkok or any of Thailand’s postcard-perfect tropical islands. Under current Thai law, recreational use of extremely potent cannabis is still prohibited, and tourists convicted of drug possession can face up to 15 years in prison.

Thailand’s campaign began with a 2019 law allowing the medicinal use of marijuana, a first for Southeast Asia. The rules now allow the sale of cannabis containing low percentages of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the herb’s main psychoactive compound.

The mass plant distribution project is scheduled to begin next month and will allow residents to grow medical grade (i.e. low THC) cannabis without government permission. Large businesses will need to obtain a permit.

The deployment of the facility is intended to coincide with the new law on cannabis cultivation, which will come into effect after June 9, as well as the government’s decision to remove cannabis from the list of drugs deemed illegal under the Narcotics Act, starting the same week. June. project news reported earlier this week by CNN and other news organizations.

Thailand’s deputy health minister, Sophon Mekthon, said this month that the government plans to promote the idea of ​​a wellness industry that includes recreational cannabis use, according to the Bangkok Post. reported.

But it’s not yet clear whether the part of the cannabis plant that people drink to get high—the dried flowers—will be removed from the government’s list of banned drugs when the Narcotics Act is updated next month, says Carl K. Linn, author of the book. a newsletter He wrote about cannabis in Thailand on Thursday.

If only Cannabidiol or CBD and cannabis are removed from the ban list, he wrote, the government’s plans to promote the recreational pot will “someday be little more than a dream of what might be – one day – famously down the road.”

Either way, Thailand’s slow but steady pressure to decriminalize marijuana is remarkable because the country is located in a region where governments have long imposed harsh penalties for drug users. In nearby Singapore, for example, possession of it carries a prison sentence of up to ten years, and its trafficking is punishable by death.

Thailand’s decriminalization attempt has a political dimension. The country is run by a military government that seized power in the 2014 coup, and when the military-appointed National Legislature voted unanimously in 2018 to allow the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, some thought it could help military-backed parties gain support in parliament. elections the following year.

One such party, Bhumjaithai, is led by Anutin Charnvirakul, who said on his 2019 campaign trail that small-scale hemp farming could bring in an extra $13,000 a year to every household. He was later appointed as health minister.

Writing on Facebook this week about the plant distribution measure, Mr. Charnvirakul presented the country’s new cannabis policies as a business opportunity and predicted that the country could generate more than $300 million a year from marijuana and hemp.

“This is a free market,” he wrote. “Just obey the law.”