Thailand at the heart of progress

Updated: Aug 17, 2021

Bangkok, a kind of Asian Amsterdam? The atmosphere that reigns there makes doubt among some. Street-waste neon lights, strip clubs and the opening of coffee shops, exclusively supplied in CBD, fill the capital, attracting new youth.

It is in late 2020 that Thailand decides to remove some parts of the cannabis and hemp plant (stems, leaves, roots) from its list of narcotic products. Shortly after the following year, the country declared the authorization to sell foods and beverages containing CBD in cafes and restaurants.

However, THC, a psychoactive substance in cannabis, remains strictly prohibited. Everyone still retains the right to grow medical cannabis “by partnering with provincial hospitals,” said Traisulee Traisoranakul, deputy government spokesperson, following the legalization of the plant for therapeutic purposes in late 2018. Since this decision was a source of much progress, the country has been able to implement a medical cannabis program that is prescribed by traditional physicians, hospitals and “normal” physicians.

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In addition, the cultivation and production of hemp was legalized during January for all uses, whether for cultural, commercial or medical purposes. Thailand has also started research with the aim of creating a country-specific cannabis variety for therapeutic purposes.

An entrepreneur working in the plant sector talks about the potential prospects of the plant, explaining that “CBD hemp will surely become a source of income for Thailand, and attract investors.” Indeed, the country’s economy is one fifth based on tourism. In order to steer Thailand’s economy towards new alternatives, the government is said to have organised a kind of “agriculture fair” around hemp, in the form of a convention during which food products such as noodles, CBD drinks and ice creams were available. The convention organizer went on to say, “Cannabis is the rising star, to put money in our pockets, and to make the economy as healthy as it used to be, or even better.”

This new business thus appears as an emergency exit for the country, victim of a 6.1% recession caused by the sharp fall of tourism in a context of health crisis in 2020. The cannabidiol (CBD) market, becomes an increasingly interesting market and exploited by different countries, which does not make it an exclusive in Thailand. Is he alone capable of restoring the economy?