Thai Cannabis Industry is Clouded by the Emergence Of Legal Threats



(CTN News) – Cannabis-related enterprises are already transforming Thailand’s urban landscape months after it became the first Asian nation to legalize marijuana.

From Bangkok to Chiang Mai, neon-lit signage with cannabis plants is increasingly everywhere, and the substance is contaminating everything from food to beverages to cosmetics, encouraged by the prospect of money from marijuana tourism.

Thailand’s cannabis sector is treading a fine line in terms of politics despite its fast expansion.

Due to a legislative gap created when the substance was decriminalized before legislators could agree on how to manage the sector, businesses today operate in a grey area.

Growing social worries over legalization’s effects also pose a danger to the sector, which is predicted to reach a value of $1 billion by 2025.

“Now, all of this is political. The coalition parties now want to turn back after the government has gone so far, according to Rattapon Sanrak, the leader of a cannabis advocacy organization that owns and operates Highland Cafe, a dispensary in Bangkok’s Lat Phrao district.

“Re-criminalizing it will drive everything underground, and businesspeople that want to do it correctly wouldn’t be able to,” the entrepreneur said.

As early as next week, lawmakers are anticipated to pick up discussing a draught cannabis law intended to give the government greater authority over the sector.

After numerous lawmakers decided to remove the legislation from consideration in September because it did not go far enough in outlawing recreational usage, the legislation stagnated.

Although the draught bill didn’t expressly forbid recreational smoking, it stated that smoking in public places would be illegal; the government has repeatedly stated since June that decriminalization was intended to target medical and commercial use of marijuana rather than recreational use.

Other regulations include those against emitting offensive odours in public, selling to unborn babies or children, and commercial advertising.

Cannabis consumers and business owners are afraid that they face a struggle against politicians who want to reverse legalization with the aid of civil society organizations because of the legal ambiguities.

This week, a network of students, parents and teachers contributed to the demands for cannabis to once again be classified as a narcotic by signing a petition with more than 15,000 signatures. Several academics and medical professionals have made this request.

The companies affected by Hong Kong’s CBD product ban face ruin. Calls for a crackdown on drugs and firearms have also increased in response to a fatal shooting at a preschool in October by a former officer with drug connections.

The main opposition Pheu Thai party has used the shooting to intensify its anti-drug rhetoric in front of an election that will be held in March, even though most Thais do not associate it with cannabis policy.

Supporters of cannabis claim that legalization has given communities devastated by Covid prohibitions, which have decimated Thailand’s tourism-dependent economy, a lifeline.

To promote locations where visitors may visit organic cannabis farms and get cannabis oil massages, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has promoted cannabis use as a tourism experience.

According to information from the Public Health Ministry, more than 1 million individuals have already received permits to cultivate marijuana using the government’s mobile phone application since June 9.

It’s clear how this will benefit tourism. More than a dozen dispensaries are now housed in a “cannabis complex” on Bangkok’s Khaosan Road, a popular destination for travellers, where customers can purchase not just buds but also edibles, tea bags, massage oils, and handcrafted bongs.

The co-owner of Joint Us, one of the stores in the Plantopia Weed City complex, Worawut Ngamthanawit, said that although tourism is already a significant industry in Thailand, marijuana also adds value to other companies.

Since it opened in September, the modest dispensary has never been short of clients, according to Worawut, as travellers peruse Khaosan Road in quest of the newest exotic Thai strain to sample.

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This month on a Wednesday night, Justin George, a 42-year-old tourist from Canada, took a 30-minute Tuk Tuk journey to the business after receiving advice from a Twitch live broadcaster. He had just arrived in Bangkok, and this was his third visit to a clinic that day.

“I travelled to Thailand for it, after all. George stated, “I’d intended to come earlier, but I wasn’t coming until marijuana was legalized.

I use cannabis to deal with severe back pain. “I don’t spend thousands of dollars if I can’t smoke pot there.”

Soranut Masayavanich, the proprietor of the dispensary Sukhumweed, described how cannabis helped his company and even the neighbourhood’s fortunes, which were both about 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) away on a busy street in the commercial Sukhumvit district.

His business is surrounded by eateries serving rice dishes, boat noodles, dim sum, and rows of shophouses occupied by street food sellers.

“Cannabis has aided in people’s re-emergence. Cash is pouring into the nation. Thailand hasn’t been this energized in a while, according to Soranut.

“Every restaurant in the area is doing well. Because of the influx of people we’ve brought here, the community is thriving.

Chainat Rodsukho, a restaurant owner whose cooked-to-order rice shop is close to Sukhumweed, claimed that the dispensary had energized the area after many nearby businesses suffered during Covid.

They didn’t cause us any issues, and their clients are extremely polite—far from what I had anticipated—he said. Some of the clients eventually became my clients as well.

Anutin Charnvirakul, the Health Minister, is depicted as a cartoon character on the packaging of Sukhumweed’s hemp oil-infused lip balm in a playful nod to the man who led the cannabis liberalization movement as one of his Bhumjaithai party’s election-year campaign promises.

Sukhumweed obtains all of its cannabis from local growers. Anutin has called opposition to legalizing marijuana political posturing and vowed that his party wouldn’t budge from its core principle.

“As written, the draught legislation is complete and capable of preventing abuses.

Anutin called the policy a “river of no return” and said those opposed to it have political motivations and only want to hurt the standing of the political party that proposed it.

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