Thailand is getting closer to making cannabis a profitable product, with further policy reform on the horizon, according to the country’s top health official.
Following a weekend visit to a medical cannabis learning centre in the Bueng Kan province, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said that every day Thailand is nearing its goal of converting cannabis to a “cash crop.”
With the use of medical cannabis and extract growing in popularity, he said cannabis isn’t used in secret anymore and that the government is open to “a wide field” of cannabis use.
But although he’s “pleased that Thai people are more open to marijuana,” he urged for cannabis to be used in accordance with existing rules.
While confirming the party has solidified its cannabis policy, he said he’s trying to find more ways “to unlock more cannabis use” and promising more access.
“These laws, when passed by the House of Commons, will be important progress in the policy. People will have greater access to marijuana,” he said in a statement.
He said the Bhumjaithai Party (Thai Pride Party) — which he is the leader of — is pushing to reform the Narcotics Act, as well as set up a central agency to collect cannabis production numbers and cannabis use data to meet the needs of international contracts.
Reforming Thai cannabis policy had been part of the Bhumjaithai Party’s 2019 campaign, and parts of the plant have been decriminalized since then.
Stalks, stems, fibres and extracts with no more than 0.2-per-cent CBD aren’t listed as narcotics anymore, but marijuana seeds, buds, leaves and cannabis inflorescence are still considered narcotics. Recreational use of weed in Thailand is strictly prohibited, and could result in jail time or fines.
According to BBC Thailand, strict laws continue to limit what the cannabis market can do, and entering it is difficult and time-consuming.
Kitty Chopaka, a cannabis advocate in Thailand and CEO of Elevated Estate, has told Mugglehead she believes Thailand is still years behind in embracing cannabis, as progress is slowed by stigma within government, slow research processes and a lack of cannabis knowledge.
She said while the government is trying to improve access, it isn’t doing it correctly.