The expansion of the cannabis industry and its popularity around the world has not spared Thailand and its people. Like other issues and public policies, the population is divided over the type of legislation required to regulate the cultivation and use of cannabis in the country.
One group agrees with legalization based on the medical benefits of cannabis extract and safety over conventional drugs. On the other hand, some have raised concerns about the higher level of crime and violence associated with the sale and distribution of marijuana.
In the end, the government had the final say and had to weigh the positives of the weed against its cons for the country.
Cannabis legislation in Thailand
Hemp and cannabis are Category 5 narcotics according to the classification of the Narcotics Act 1979. Therefore, any activity such as the cultivation of cannabis in grow tents, the sale of the buds or its derivatives had been subject to strict restrictions until the recent peak in the legalization of cannabis due to its therapeutic value. The first significant breakthrough for cannabis came when Amendment (No.7) to the Narcotic Control Act, February 19, 2019.
The main concerns here were the presence of two primary cannabinoids in cannabis and cannabis-derived products, namely cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). According to recent legal changes, the definition of cannabis is Cannabis sativa L. subsp. Indica and hemp like Cannabis sativa L. subsp. Sativa. In this case, the herb should have at most 1.0% THC by dry weight in the buds and leaves.
The main body responsible for regulating cannabis and hemp products is the Thai Food and Drug Administration (Thai FDA). The Thai FDA is a government institution overseen by the Department of Public Health. It works with the Narcotics Control Committee to grant and supervise licenses and control the marketing of these products. Apart from that, many national cannabis policy development committees have Thai FDA representatives on their boards.
Legal use of cannabis in Thailand
In 2019, the Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Act, BE 2545 (2002) (“NAR”) was modified. This amendment allows Thais to legally use cannabis for its medical benefits. But he has always classified cannabis as a Schedule 5 narcotic. Thus, prohibiting the production, distribution, sale of the plant except for research or medical purposes.
However, a new announcement was made on December 15, 2020, decriminalizing certain parts of cannabis, meaning that they were no longer considered Schedule 5 narcotics. Some of these parts of the cannabis plant include:
- To bark
- Leave without flower or bud
- CBD and THC extract (less than 0.2%)
- Post-extraction residue containing CBD and THC (less than 0.2%)
For these exceptions, there is an essential caveat that you should keep in mind; all parts of cannabis intended for medical or research use must be from Thailand, cultivated legally. Remember, the key here is’legally cultivated in Thailand. ‘
Production, export and import of cannabis
Currently, Thai laws regulate the growth of cannabis. Even though some parts of the plant no longer fall under the Schedule 5 narcotics classification, that does not mean that anyone can freely grow cannabis in their garden. The NAR still regulates the cultivation of cannabis.
Specifically, article 26/2 of the NAR has the mandate to restrict the import, production and export of cannabis in Thailand, unless you legally obtain a license. Entities that receive licenses can legally produce cannabis in accordance with Thai FDA and Narcotics Control Committee regulations.
But the authority has strict requirements and requirements before issuing licenses. In addition, only a limited group can apply for this license. Applicants for the cannabis license in Thailand can be medical organizations, universities, government agencies, farmers, or pharmacy professionals. Apart from these, community business groups or any party referred to in Article 26/5 of the NAR can also apply for a license.
This means that importing any part of the herb into Thailand is also illegal. This is because the amendment says that parts removed from Schedule 5 narcotics can only come from legal production in the country. Therefore, importing fibers, bark, branches, trunks or any other part of cannabis included in the advertisement would be an illegal transaction unless you have previously obtained specific permission from the parties concerned. .
The full legalization debate
The Thai government has taken a defensive stance towards stakeholders in Thailand, especially in the first stage of cannabis legalization. This stage of legalizing the production and sale of cannabis in the country will extend through 2024. During this first stage cannabis license period, performing agencies will receive these licenses.
As such, a group of farmers or a private entity can only become eligible to obtain cannabis licenses if they partner with operational forces with a state agency. This requirement does not apply only to the hemp licensing framework in which a private entity could use or hold an individual hemp license.
If the government allows the legal use of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes, private cannabis companies will enjoy higher profits. This is because there will be less restrictions on production and quality control. Seeing how the full legalization of marijuana has affected other countries, this adaptable plant could be quite lucrative for Thailand, rivaling crops like rice, rubber, tapioca, and sugarcane, mainly because Thailand is primarily an agrarian economy.