Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia to legalise parts of the cannabis plant for use in medicine and food in 2018, making it easier and easier for people to consume the plant.
Since then, the popular tourist destination has gone further, removing the stems, roots, leaves and sprigs of cannabis from its Category 5 narcotics list in December 2021. However, the government decided to keep buds and seeds on the list at the time.
This year, Thai authorities have made the decision to finally remove the remaining parts of the plant from the list, thus enabling the possession, sale and growth of personal amounts of cannabis without the threat of becoming a victim of the notoriously strict Thai drugs laws. According to a report in Bloomberg, Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will recommend the change to the narcotics board this week. It will then have to be formally approved by the Health minister Anutin Charnvirakul before being passed into Thai law.
Chaiwat Sowcharoensuk, an analyst at Krungsri Research told Bloomberg, “While the law change will allow all parts of cannabis to be bought, sold and used, recreational use will likely remain controlled as marijuana extracts with higher tetrahydrocannabinol levels that get people high will still be regulated. Producers of soaps, beauty products and cosmetics from marijuana will likely be the ones to benefit the most from the decriminalization.”
Under changes to the Narcotics Act 2021, Thais have been able to purchase medical cannabis from licensed retailers, and households are permitted to grow up to six plants for personal use. The components of the plant that contain less than 0.2% of THC such as the roots, stems, stalks and leaves can be sold or used in food and cosmetics. However, the flowers and seeds must be sent to a state medical facility for processing. Until the new changes become law, recreational use will remain prohibited.
Speaking with Vice World News in December last year, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anuntin Charnvirakul talked of the public health benefits and the economical positives that come with the law change, “What we have achieved so far is to declare that cannabis stems, roots, leaves and sprigs are not drugs. Starting next year, we will remove everything—stems, roots, sprigs, leaves, buds, flowers and seeds—from the narcotics list.”
“When the economy is picking up and we don’t have new products as alternatives, people will keep doing the same things and competing with one another. But if we offer them a choice, they can learn to build on it, creating new products and business models, which will in turn speed up the economic recovery.”