Bangkok: With an aim to boosting its agriculture and tourism sectors, Thailand became the first Asian nation to legalise the growing of marijuana and its consumption in food and drinks. Smoking the pot is still not legalised. Shoppers queued up at outlets selling cannabis-infused drinks, sweets and other items as advocates of the plant welcomed the reform in a country that has long had a reputation for strict anti-drug laws.
The public health minister's plan to distribute 1 million marijuana seedlings has added to the impression that Thailand is turning into a weed wonderland. Thailand, which has a tradition of using cannabis to relieve pain and fatigue, legalised medicinal marijuana in 2018. The decision makes Thailand the first nation in Asia to decriminalise marijuana.
But it is not following the examples of Uruguay and Canada, the only two countries so far that have legalised recreational marijuana on a national basis. The government, banking on the plant as a cash crop, plans to give away a million plants to encourage farmers to take up its cultivation. “After Covid, the economy going down the drain, we really do need this,” said Chokwan Kitty Chopaka, who owns a shop selling cannabis gum sweets.
But authorities aim to head off an explosion of recreational use by limiting the strength of the products on offer. The possession and sale of cannabis extracts containing more than 0.2% of its psychoactive ingredient is not allowed, which will mean smokers of the drug known as "pot", "weed" and a host of other names, will struggle to get "stoned".
"Buds with 0.2% THC is considered low, so you would need to consume a lot to get high," said Suphamet Hetrakul, co-founder of the Teera Group, which grows cannabis for medical use. THC is concentrated in the plant's flowers, or buds.