Are you an entrepreneur or business person looking to invest in the cannabis and hemp industry? If yes, Thailand might be your most probable destination. With numerous developments, regulations, and research, the Thai’s cannabis market is becoming a hit, not only in Asia but also globally,
Thailand is among the most promising nations in terms of cannabis trade and consumption. While other governments are still putting restrictions on cannabis and hemp, Thailand is exploiting this somewhat controversial industry. This article provides a complete overview of the cannabis and hemp industry in Thailand. Read on!
History of Cannabis and Hemp in Thailand
Cannabis, (popularly known as kancha) and hemp use have come a long way, from the traditional kitchen ingredient to the modern medicinal substance. Laborers used marijuana as a muscle relaxer while women used it to ease labor pains. However, the Cannabis Act, B.E. 2477 of 1935, criminalized the possession, use, or sale of cannabis.
What Does Thai’s Cannabis Look Like?
Thailand’s kancha is different from that from other parts of the world. It is a pure Sativa landrace highly popular for its high THC content and relatively low CBD. Its leaves grow in clusters and feature wispy hairs. Also, it has a citrus scent and produces a lighter “high” than other types of cannabis.
The majority of Thai’s cannabis varieties take around 20 weeks to flower due to lack of light variation and temperature between seasons.
In the modern-day, many people in Thailand regard cannabis as traditional medicine. Unlike other drugs, cannabis doesn’t experience a lot of stigmas. The government’s contribution to the legalization of kancha removes any significant war on it.
Cannabis and Hemp Regulations in Thailand
Thailand has laws in place that regulate the production and use of hemp and marijuana. Although the rules were more stringent in the past, the Thai government is easing them day by day.
To start with, the government has separate laws for hemp and cannabis. Hemp is legally distinct from cannabis as it contains less than 0.2% THC. In 2018, the government enacted its first regulations that allowed government entities and agencies to apply for hemp cultivation permits. The registered entities would grow hemp in any of the following provinces: Nan, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Tak, Phetchabun, or Chiang Mai. Hemp strains from these provinces are highly regarded for their high-quality fibers, making them suitable for the textile industry.
In December 2019, Thailand legalized the medicinal use of cannabis. Medicinal kancha can be used to treat the following;
- Multiple sclerosis
- Child epilepsy
Recreational use, however, is a crime that attracts more than 15 years in prison.
In the new regulations, 99% pure hemp extracts containing a CBD to THC ratio of 0.01%:0.2% weight can be used in pharmaceutical drugs and herbal products. Dried hemp back, seeds, fibers, and stems can as well be used in food products, cosmetics, and traditional medicines.
In recent regulations, Thailand removed hemp extracts and low-level cannabis from the list of banned narcotics. Hemp seed and oil derivatives are allowed. CBD extracts from hemp plants and marijuana were also removed from the list of banned narcotic substances.
Currently, kancha is grown by government agencies and research institutions such as universities. They grow industrial-grade cannabis rather than the typical garden cannabis.
Production and Trade of Hemp and Cannabis in Thailand
Thailand highly restricts the growth, manufacturing, and trade of both hemp and kancha. It is illegal to grow cannabis at home whether for recreation or medicinal use. Also, the sale of cannabis seeds is illegal. This means that you cannot purchase them in Thailand or buy from another country.
With a government permit, a farmer can cultivate hemp. The law requires that hemp must not exceed more than 1% THC. Hemp can only be grown in designated areas, while seeds can exclusively be sourced from licensed hemp-harvesting producers.
With a valid license, the farmer can grow, harvest, or process hemp for;
- Commercial use
- Production and distribution of seeds
- Household use
Thai Cannabis Market Scope
The Thai cannabis and hemp industry is soaring very fast since the legalization of medicinal cannabis and hemp on medicinal and food products. According to the Bangkok Post, Thailand’s cannabis industry is estimated to hit around USD 661 million by 2024.
Thailand approved USD 4 million to expand marijuana farms for medicinal purposes. This will help fend off any foreign competition for medicinal marijuana.
The Future of the Hemp and Cannabis Industry in Thailand
Thailand is poised to overtake the United States’ Hemp and Cannabis Industry within the next 5- 10 years.
There are various proposals to legalize the cultivation of kancha. Thailand is gearing up towards full legalization of kancha that will allow Thais to cultivate up to 6 cannabis plants at home. This kancha will be sold to the government for conversion to medicinal marijuana.
It looks likely that farmers will be able to plant cannabis trees in their gardens. While this will have to wait, the government has built a very large industrial-scale, medical marijuana facility. The Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) is hoping to cultivate plants that will produce enough ingredients for the manufacture of a million, 5ml kancha oil bottles by Feb 2020.
Future kancha strains will have differing percentages of CBD and THC. Maejo University, the premier cannabis research institution, has developed a marijuana strain called Issara. This strain offers equal percentages of CBD and THC. These strain will treat illnesses and symptoms that require different ratios.