Thailand’s health minister on Friday gave away 100 cannabis plant seedlings, one day after the nation legalized the cultivation and trade of cannabis, the Associated Press reports. The giveaway is part of a plan by officials to give away 1 million cannabis plants to Thai citizens.
The first plants were distributed in the Buriram province, considered a stronghold of the Bhumjai Thai party of Health Minister Anutin Charnviraku, which draws from the support of low-income farmers in the region. During the event, Anutin said cannabis legalization would bring financial benefits to “individual growers, community farmers (and) entrepreneurs.”
Government officials insist that the reforms only legalize medical cannabis; however, there are no plans for monitoring small-scale cultivation and sales, the report says.
In February, Anutin gave final approval to remove cannabis from the nation’s Narcotics List but has indicated that individuals using cannabis in “nonproductive ways,” such as public consumption, could still face penalties, such as three months imprisonment and a fine up to $780. Officials have said they are not trying to create a tourism industry around cannabis.
According to the Thai Industrial Hemp Trade Association, the market value of cannabis-related businesses is estimated at more than $1 billion and is expected to nearly double by 2024. Cafes and restaurants are permitted to sell cannabis products in Thailand as long as the products don’t exceed 0.2% THC.
Bhumjai party officials said more than 350,000 households have already registered with the government to cultivate cannabis.
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