As the first Asian nation to use it, Thailand authorized marijuana cultivation and used it in snacks and drinks on 9th June to promote its farming and tourist industries. However, consuming cannabis in public remains illegal under public health regulations.
Customers waited in line at stores offering cannabis-infused drinks, candies, and other goods as supporters who legalized the plant cheered the shift in a nation known for having harsh anti-drug policies.
Rittipong Dachkul, 24, was one of the hundreds standing in line at one Bangkok store since Wednesday night to purchase his first-ever authorized marijuana. The state, which is counting on the herb as a revenue source, plans to provide a million plants to landowners to entice them to start growing it.
We require this after COVID and the economic situation, said Chokwan Kitty Chopaka, owner of a store selling marijuana chew sweets. However, by restricting the potency of the goods available, officials hope to stop a surge in leisure use.
Marijuana cultivators are required to enroll on a state app called PlookGanja, also known as cultivating ganja, an alternative term for the plant with spikey leaves. According to Paisan Dankhum of the health department, the app has around 100,000 users. However, several new cultivators raised concerns about quality checks.
According to Suphamet Hetrakul, co-founder of the Teera Company, which cultivates marijuana for medicinal purposes, “it will be difficult to check the quantity of THC and other impurities in their goods and that could be hazardous for users.”
As per the department of health, 1,181 goods, comprising food and cosmetics that include cannabis compounds, have been certified, and by 2026, the business is predicted to generate up to 15 billion baht.
A government push
The Thai government aims to impact the medicinal marijuana industry since the country’s tropical weather is perfect for cultivating cannabis. Therefore, it is anticipated to increase it all, from the national income to the lives of small farmers.
To urge farmers to produce the plant, state justice minister Anutin Charnvirakul releases 1 million cannabis seeds. According to Charnvirakul, the decision would also allow people to produce medicinal cannabis in their homes for consumption or as a small-scale business.
This will make it possible for citizens and the state to earn more than 10 billion baht (or around INR 22,27,000) annually from cannabis and hemp, according to Anutin’s Fb post. In contrast to its longstanding reputation as a stringent anti-drug government, Thailand has been actively promoting the production of cannabis and authorized its medicinal use in 2018.
Activists anticipate that the accusations against the more than 4,000 persons being held on various marijuana-related offenses will be dismissed. Nevertheless, this will affect the area because Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia, three neighboring nations, have strict drug laws that can result in capital punishment.
Large versus tiny growers
The state has mandated that those who want to grow marijuana must enroll on the PlookGanja (Grow Ganja) official application, and it has already got nearly 1 lakh requests. The value of the work that people would produce is an issue, though.
This massive business will have to ask the Food and Drug Administration officials for authorization. As per a Bangkok Post story, the FDA got approximately 4,700 requests just last month for permits to acquire, use, grow, and manufacture cannabis and hemp. Nevertheless, small farmers and environmentalists worry that large corporations will eventually dominate the economy.
“We have observed what transpired in Thailand’s alcohol industry. According to Taopiphop Limjittrakorn, a politician from the opposing Move Forward party, just large-scale manufacturers are permitted to monopolize the marketplace. If the laws are favorable to big industries, we fear a comparable thing will happen to the marijuana market.