Thailand became the first country to legalize cannabis on Thursday. However, those who use the drug for recreational purposes will still face harsh penalties according to the minister responsible.
Anutin Charnvirakul, Thai Health Minister, spoke to CNN ahead of the move. He said that legal cannabis production would boost Thailand’s economy, but cautioned that it is still illegal to use recreationally. Anutin, who is also deputy prime minister, said that “it’s a no.” “We have laws that regulate the use, consumption, and smoking of cannabis products in non-productive ways.
It is now legal to grow hemp products and to trade them. Restaurants and cafes can serve cannabis-infused food or drinks, but not if they contain more than 0.2% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the main psychoactive component in cannabis. The Public Health Act continues to impose harsh penalties, including up to three months’ imprisonment and a $800 fine for public smoking of cannabis.
The minister warned foreign tourists not to light up a joint while they are out and about. “Thailand will support cannabis policies for medicinal purposes. It doesn’t matter if they are coming to Thailand for medical treatment, or to purchase products for their health. But if they think you’re going to Thailand because you’ve heard that marijuana or cannabis is legal, there’s a problem.
He further said “Don’t come. If you only come to this country to visit, we won’t accept you.” Anutin, said that he believes the Thai cannabis industry can generate billions in income by boosting agriculture.
He stated that “we expect the value [of the cannabis industry] to exceed $2billion dollars easily” and highlighted recent incentives like collaborating with Agriculture Ministry to distribute 1,000,000 cannabis plants to homes across the country.
Anutin stated that Thailand is, according to what he had heard, one of the best places for cannabis plants. Thailand wants to be a significant player in the medical marijuana market. Thailand already has a thriving medical tourism industry. The tropical climate makes it ideal for growing cannabis.
Thailand’s marijuana reforms are expected to have economic benefits. They will boost everything, from the national income to small farmer livelihoods. However, there are concerns about how the benefits will be distributed. One concern is that corporations may unfairly profit from regulations that involve complicated licensing processes and high fees for commercial usage. This would be detrimental to small producers.
Ittisug Hnjichan, the owner of Goldenleaf Hemp’s cannabis farm in Sri Racha, Thailand, held his fifth training course. He taught 40 farmers, entrepreneurs, and retirees. The course cost $150 and included tips on how to care for the plants and how to nick seed coats.