- Thailand decriminalized usage of Cannabis
- Recreational consumption of cannabis is still against Thai law
- Farmers and production sources are registered in Thailand
- Cannabis bill due before Thai parliament in coming weeks
Thailand is now among the few countries in the world to embrace the controversial commercialization of Cannabis and its many products. New supply chains are rapidly sprouting with many Thai nationals establishing backyard cannabis gardens to capitalize on the new opportunity.
Many Thai have embarked on growing small backyard cannabis gardens t in the new development that now makes Thailand the most open cannabis regime in conservative Asia. Cannabis cafes have sprouted all over Thailand and especially in Bangkok. An anonymous consumer at one of the cafes admitted that he and age group friends don’t really drink alcohol but they do smoke weed, seemingly unaware that at this point his consumption was recreational and against the law.
A Thai cannabis dealer. Image courtesy of Time
JOBS HAVE BEEN CREATED
Thailand’s removal of cannabis from its list of banned narcotics on June 9 was intended only to make it easier for growers and consumers of cannabis products to access the plant for medicinal or culinary purposes. Smoking the drug recreationally remains punishable. Nevertheless, recreational use has also taken off across the Southeast Asian country, driving a nascent business in cannabis products that police are unable to curb under existing drug laws.
For many young people in particular, cannabis products have provided badly needed streams of income following the collapse of tourism, which normally provides about one-fifth of the kingdom’s jobs, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thailand has traditionally been a much sought-after tourist destination through the years though this includes sex tourism which has been quite common. One of the youths reiterated that since the law was relaxed, many have had a new chance to make a decent living. He further stated that he is working full-time at a Cannabis cafe.
On social media, the hashtag #saikiew, or “green way of life”, has become a popular way to promote cannabis products and share tips on cultivating the plant.
Thai Government agencies are actively involved in the project. Image courtesy of Bangkok Post
FARMERS & DEALERS HAVE TO BE REGISTERED
Tens of thousands of small-scale farmers have registered to grow cannabis legally, while many more are believed to be trying their hand at unregistered home farms. The relative free-for-all which has made Thailand the most open cannabis regime in Asia could, however, be short-lived With a cannabis bill due before parliament in the coming weeks, and politicians under pressure to curb – or even ban, recreational use and ensure cannabis does not reach children.
Thai Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul last week clarified that the relaxation of the law was intended for medical purposes only. “The whole plant is no longer a narcotic,” he told the press, adding that “only the extract, not the flowers, the trees nor the roots” with “under 0.2 percent THC” can be used, referring to the compound which provides the drug’s high effects. Others fear that once the hype wears off, small businesses will be left with a market saturated with cannabis and forced to shoulder high costs to grow premium strains with better profit margins.
“It’s not that simple to grow good weed,” Piyatida Farin, who has been cultivating around 100 plants per crop for the last three years, told the press. “If you just want to grow Thai strains, you can just plant them in your back yard and they will grow, but if you want to grow other strains you have to know-how, otherwise it’s too risky to put in your money.”
Experts predict the Thai cannabis market could soon be worth several billion dollars a year if the law remains liberal. Most of that is expected to be soaked up by big businesses who have bought land for plantations, owners of factories making high-end CBD oils, and wellness resorts expected to receive tourists from across the world for treatments. There are other details behind the headline figure that suggest the spoils of cannabis are not going to Thai smallholders. Currently, demand is high for stronger strains of cannabis not indigenous to Thailand, such as the potent White Widow, which is a higher grade.
The inability of local growers to meet demand has resulted in illegal American imports filling Thai shelves, according to industry figures. Cannabis dispensaries are selling premium weed at 700 baht equivalent to $19.45 a gram representing two and half times of cost to wholesalers .“People are seeing the plant only as a way to make money and it’s sad because that’s not what ganja culture is all about” says a local dealer and marijuana advocate.
Kenyan presidential hopeful Professor Wajackoyah with his running mate riding high on Ganja manifesto
WAJACKOYAH THE 5TH, GANJA CHRONICLES
For Chokwan Chowdhry, a longtime advocate for cannabis legalization who recently opened the Chowdhry Shop dispensary in downtown Bangkok, it is likely too late to roll back the law on recreational use.“It is interesting to see how society changes with the thought of the Cannabis money”, Chokwan told reporters, citing the tax revenue for an indebted government as one of the wider motivators for easing the law. This is reflected in the current Kenyan politics, being an election year.
One of the main presidential aspirants in Kenya, professor George Wajackoyah has adopted the commercialization of cannabis in his manifesto, driving a mammoth percentage of voters crazy as they readily embrace his ideas. Wajackoyah has promised to pay off the huge debt that Kenya owes China if elected and would use proceeds from cannabis to offset the Chinese loan. His campaign trail has witnessed huge crowds and now he is suddenly among the top contenders. The idea of job creation and high revenue from cannabis seems to be the game-changer in the highly heated Kenyan campaigns and this has earned the professor a serious tag, “Wajackoyah the 5th”.
It would be wise for both locals and tourists to know all the legal parameters concerning cannabis as these turn out to be different in all countries that are embracing cannabis. Decriminalization of marijuana means that possession or use of the drug will not lead to criminal charges. In some countries, possessing marijuana is not a criminal act, but it might still be illegal. This means that you won’t be taken to court, but may have to deal with civil penalties like heavy fines or referrals to an education or treatment program therefore even in countries where marijuana is legal for recreational and medicinal use, sale of the drug is strictly regulated and only cannabis purchased from authorized stores is considered legal.
Among the countries that have embraced the commercialization of cannabis are: