The Minister of Public Health’s plan to distribute one million marijuana plants, starting on Friday, has increased the feeling that Thailand is turning into a weed.
The Food and Drug Administration’s decision to remove the entire plant from the drug category makes Thailand the first nation in Asia to decriminalize marijuana for medical and industrial use. But that is not the case with Uruguay and Canada, the only two countries to date that have legalized marijuana for national recreation.
So far, there seems to be no effort to legalize what people can grow and smoke at home, other than to sign up to do so and declare that it is for medical purposes.
Some Thailand spokesmen celebrated on Thursday by buying marijuana at a café that had previously been restricted to selling products from parts of the smelter that do not draw people to dinner. The dozens or so who arrived early at Highland Cafe could choose from a variety of buds with names such as Sugarcane, Bubblegum, Purple Afghani and UFO.
“I can say out loud that I smoke cannabis. I do not have to hide like before when it was branded an illegal drug, “said 24-year-old Rittipong Bachkul, the first customer of the day. Marijuana is also known as cannabis or ganja in Thailand.
“As far as the government is concerned, it is their role to promote medical use only. But it is quite clear that we have come a long way and finally we are legalizing its use. The government understands that there are more advantages than disadvantages,” said Rattapon. Sanrak, the café’s partner and longtime lawyer.
The country is known for its Thai Stick variety, which is named after how its vigorous flowers are dried and tied to sticks and is the origin of many varieties that are now grown abroad.
The Thai government has warned that those willing to engage in public smoking can still be considered inconvenient, subject to a possible three-month prison sentence and a $ 25,000 baht ($ 780) fine. And marijuana extract, like oil, is still illegal if it contains more than 0.2% of the tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, that makes people high.
“Tourists should be careful until the rules become clearer after new cannabis laws are passed,” said Professor Sarana Sommano of the Department of Botany and Soil Science at Chiang Mai University.
“There are still risks. The problem is that cannabis is no longer considered a drug, but there are no regulations and rules of the ministry that apply to its use,” she said. “There is no mention of restrictions on use, driving laws on drugs. This could be a mistake on the part of the government when they try to rush out of their policy to please the electorate without actually planning the details and explaining to the public what is happening. , “he said.
Thailand prefers to break into the medical marijuana market. It already has a well-developed medical tourism service and its tropical climate is ideal for growing cannabis.
“We should know how to use cannabis,” said Anutin Charnvirakul, Minister of Public Health. “If we have the right awareness, cannabis like gold is something precious and should be promoted.”
Some people who immediately benefit from the change are people who have been locked up for breaking the old law.
“From our point of view, the positive change in the law is that at least 4,000 people imprisoned for cannabis-related offenses will be released,” Gloria Lai, regional director of the International Drug Policy Consortium in Asia, said in an email interview.
“People who are facing charges of cannabis will see them drop and money and cannabis seized by people charged with cannabis-related offenses will be returned to their owners,” she said. Its organization is a network of civic groups around the world that advocate a drug policy that includes human rights, health and development.
The projected economic benefits are at the heart of Thailand’s marijuana reform, which is projected to increase from national incomes to the livelihoods of small farmers. But people are worried about whether the benefits will be distributed fairly.
One fear is that large companies could unfairly profit from proposed regulations involving complex licensing processes and expensive commercial use fees that would hamper small producers.
Taopiphop Limjittrakorn, a Member of Parliament for the opposition Move Forward, said that under some of the proposed regulations, the cannabis industry could end up being controlled by several large corporations, as is the case with alcoholic beverages. His party wants the law that is currently being drafted to address the problem.
Small operators are willing to go into the marijuana industry.
On a recent hot Sunday afternoon in Sri Racha district in eastern Thailand, Ittisug Hanjichan, owner of the Goldenleaf Hemp Cannabis Plant, led his fifth training course for 40 entrepreneurs, farmers and retirees. They paid about $ 150 each to learn tips on cutting seedlings and nurturing plants to get a quality crop.
One of those present was 18-year-old Chanadech Sonboon, who said his parents used to scold him for trying to grow marijuana in secret.
He said his father had changed his mind and now sees marijuana as a drug rather than something to be abused. The family runs a small home and café and hopes to one day provide their guests with cannabis.
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