Is Thailand ready for cannabis legalization? “If we let it be used recreationally, our society is not ready yet, so I want to do this first step first— the issue of making medicine,” “if society is ready,” marijuana “could become a food supplement.”
“And eventually that could lead us to its recreational use,”— Somchai Sawangkarn, chairman of the drafting committee; National Legislative Assembly.
Early practices of cannabis in Thailand towards legalization
Thailand’s connection with cannabis goes back centuries. Most researchers speculate that cannabis came to Thailand from India, given that both countries refer to the plant by a similar name, “ganja”. This used cannabis in conventional remedy for centuries before it was forbidden in 1934. Laborers used it as a muscle relaxant, and women used it to ease the pains of childbirth. In fact, the word ‘bong’, which represents a water pipe usually used to smoke weed, comes from the Thai language. Are these practices may lead to the legalization?
Another factor that may lead to cannabis legalization are the local farmers. Thais are expert cultivators they know how to grow, take care of the plant and to take out the male plant from an autoflower seed cannabis. The farmers organized and consistently tied them to small bamboo sticks and bound them with strings of hemp fiber.
The cannabis global influence
The U.S. has a long history in Thailand, influencing drug policies and promoting anti-narcotics drives. The Drug Enforcement Agency even has offices there. Thus, Thailand’s decision to legalize medical marijuana did not evolve from the intense public demand put on the government. Rather, Thailand’s change is more a reflection of changing U.S. culture and policies. Policies that have influenced the world.
Thailand’s move to legalize the use of marijuana for medical and research purposes follows a stream of legalization across the globe, including in Britain, Colombia, Denmark, Israel, and several U.S. states. Canada and Uruguay have gone one step further and also legalized recreational use.
Thailand is taking it one step at a time; legalizing medical cannabis
The push for cannabis legalization in Thailand has been a long time coming. In 2016, Thai Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya requested the government to decriminalize cannabis. The minister didn’t feel that government exercises had been useful in curbing the use of cannabis. With the legalization of cannabis, Thailand hopes to cut out a stake in the global cannabis industry.
The bill preceding the legislative reforms had remarked that recent studies have explained that marijuana extract has medicinal benefits.
Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly, whose members are designated by the country’s ruling military junta, supported changes to the drug laws that legalize the use of cannabis for medicine and research.
Potential global cannabis market
As a result of the growing global wave of cannabis recognition and, which has led to medicinal legalization in countries around the world, experts estimate the rapidly growing legal marijuana industry. Canada and California’s legalization of recreational cannabis dispense further commodification of the previously prohibited plant is as assured as it is profitable. Some in Thailand now say the country is having a composed to disrupt the global cannabis market and serve as serious competition for the global market.
Experts say Thailand, previously a regional hub for medical tourism, has a mixture of factors working in support of cannabis legalization, including a tropical climate that could acknowledge for cheaper production of cannabis than, for instance, in Canada.
If cannabis legalization and regulation are, in fact, globally contagious, the condition has reached across borders in the same way the herb originally drove its way across the globe and now into Asia.
Legalization of cannabis may boost agricultural economic growth
Some other political parties and lawmakers are promoting cannabis as an innovative cash crop of Thailand’s significantly agrarian economy. With more than 40 percent of Thais employed in agriculture, the country’s economy is very susceptible to price variations of commodities like rubber, sugar, and particularly rice.
Now that Western views have changed, Thailand seems to gradually but certainly be preparing to support the historical example of various industries and use its optimal environment and low wage costs to dominate the cannabis market with its exports upon legalization.
The dilemma of cannabis legalization
There will still be firm limitations on recreational marijuana. Patients allowed to use cannabis for medical purposes will need a prescription, and there will be boundaries to who can plant and sell it. It is the first step forward toward wider cannabis legalization.
What made the criminalization of marijuana particularly challenging, not just in Thailand, but certain parts of Southeast Asia, was that it was recognized little more than a medicinal or cooking herb with a few or no local legal or ethical stigma associated.
Thai legislators still encounter several challenges on the road to medical legalization. Patent applications from foreign firms leave lawmakers cautious, as these could recognize foreign interests to dominate the demand and make it challenging to receive cannabis in the hands of medical patients and researchers.
The high demand for Thai Sativa cannabis
Thailand even has its own landrace strain of cannabis seeds that once piloted the burgeoning secret cultivation market by storm. This popular cannabis strain was already one of the country’s largest exports, as well. Thai marijuana is a pure Sativa landrace indigenous to the tropical jungles of Thailand are often bred to preserve high THC levels. They are recognizable by their wispy hairs and dandelion-like hairs and pale green to brown batches of its leaves and light green-brown buds. The cannabis strain has a citrusy aroma offering a clear, cerebral high that’s added light and relaxed than drowsy and lethargic that is valued around the world. Thai marijuana is often packaged in “Thai sticks”, large blunts consisting of flowers wrapped around a stick, all of which is then rolled and bound in the plant’s own fan leaves.
Though Thailand’s recent move may dazzle random spectators, the shift towards more permissive marijuana policies has been years in the making. Thailand’s Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya shocked many when he called for the government to decriminalize and regulate marijuana and kratom, a plant native to Thailand with opiate-like effects. Is Thailand ready for cannabis legalization?
Natalie Gray is a Biochemical Engineer. She works in the Research and Development team that focuses on the design and construction of unit processes. She is a recreational marijuana supporter and her love for organic chemistry brought her to medical cannabis. She grows her own flowers, working on different projects and study everything above and under cannabis roots.