Thailand on Thursday legalized the cultivation and trade of cannabis, the first Southeast Asian country to pass the reforms, the Washington Post reports. Thai Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said he hopes the move will boost the nation’s economy, particularly its agricultural sector.
In February, Anutin gave final approval to remove cannabis from the nation’s Narcotics List and last month announced a plan to give away 1 million cannabis plants to citizens. Thailand legalized medical cannabis in 2018.
Anutin 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, the report says. Officials are not trying to create a tourism industry around cannabis.
“We [have always] emphasized using cannabis extractions and raw materials for medical purposes and for health. There has never once been a moment that we would think about advocating people to use cannabis in terms of recreation — or use it in a way that it could irritate others.” — Anutin to CNN
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.
Health Ministry official Paisan Dankhum told Reuters that nearly 100,000 people have signed up with the government, via the PlookGanja app, to grow cannabis. The Health Ministry said it has approved 1,181 cannabis-derived products, including cosmetics and food, and officials expect that the industry will earn as much as 15 billion baht ($435.16 million) by 2026.
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