Thailand became the first Asian country to legalize marijuana cultivation and use in food and beverages on Thursday, with the goal of bolstering the country’s agriculture and tourist industries. However, smoking marijuana remains illegal.
Customers lined up outside stores selling cannabis-infused beverages, candy, and other things, as supporters of the plant applauded the change in a country known for its harsh anti-drug policies.
Rittipong Dachkul, 24, was among those at the head of the line at one Bangkok shop, where he had been waiting since Wednesday evening to buy his first legal marijuana.
“After I got off work, I rode a bus here,” Rittipong told the journalists.
“Now that we can obtain it readily, we don’t have to worry about the source,” he remarked, “but I have no clue about the quality,” alluding to the strength of the goods available.
Thailand legalized medicinal marijuana in 2018. The country has a long history of utilizing cannabis to treat pain and exhaustion.
The government, betting on the plant’s potential as a cash crop, aims to give away a million plants to encourage farmers to grow it.
“After COVID and the economy tanking, we really need this,” said Chokwan Kitty Chopaka, owner of a cannabis gum sweets business.
However, officials want to prevent an increase in recreational usage by restricting the potency of the goods available.
It is illegal to possess or sell cannabis extracts having more than 0.2 percent of the psychoactive element tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which means that users of the substance known as “pot,” “weed,” and a variety of other names will have a difficult time getting “stoned.”
“Buds with 0.2 percent THC are considered low, so you’d have to eat a lot of them to become high,” said Suphamet Hetrakul, co-founder of the Teera Group, which grows medicinal cannabis. THC is contained in the blooms, or buds, of the plant.
Those who breach the law are still subject to imprisonment and penalties.
Cannabis farmers must register on the government’s PlookGanja app, or cultivate ganja, as the spikey-leafed plant is also known. According to Paisan Dankhum, a health ministry official, about 100,000 individuals had downloaded the app.
Suphamet expressed worry about the lack of quality control among the numerous new growers.
“Controlling the quantity of THC and other impurities in their goods will be difficult, and this might be detrimental to users,” Suphamet warned.
According to the health ministry, 1,181 goods containing cannabis extracts have been legalized, including cosmetics and food, and the business is expected to make as much as 15 billion baht ($435.16 million) by 2026.
Big business is getting involved.
Charoen Pokphand Foods Pcl, an agro-industrial conglomerate, and Gunkul Engineering, an energy business, have joined together to develop food and drinks infused with the extract.