NEWS
Thailand Contemplates Building Cannabis Tourism Zones
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The country may not stock smokeable weed, but you can clearly see the legacy of the Thai Stick in the proposal.
Published on February 3, 2022

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If last week’s news about Thailand removing cannabis from its list of controlled substances — effectively decriminalizing the plant — excited you, sit down for this news: The country’s officials are discussing plans to create cannabis tourism zones. 

Local English language publication The Thaiger reports that the Thai Food and Drug Administration has floated the idea of “Cannabis Sandbox” zones, or areas where visitors are subject to less harsh quarantine rules — and where they would have access to certain cannabis products. The plan is a tactic to stimulate the Thai economy with new forms of tourism, and will likely make the most of the country’s world-famous cannabis history.

Little information exists regarding the exact details of the “Sandbox” zones, but reports say they would not allow visitors over the age of 20 to smokeable products or edibles high in THC. They would, however, give visitors access to low-THC products, ostensibly including the medicinal cannabis oil that has been the subject of an extensive public program in Thailand. Some 60 percent of Thai public hospitals are now home to a cannabis clinic, and such clinics have a presence in every province in the country.

Also reported was the troubling news that such zones would exclude pregnant and lactating people. There is little definitive scientific evidence that says any cannabis consumption is dangerous for people who will or have given birth. But intense global stigmas exist that bar such individuals from turning to cannabis-based treatments that could alleviate the discomforts associated with pregnancy and the birthing process.

Those who will be allowed to partake in the cannabis zones are expected to bring some measure of prosperity with them. The Thai business community has been making noise about the economic potential of medicinal cannabis tourism for while. Places like Lampang’s Pethlanna Organic Commodity Enterprise have hosted cannabis tours since early last year. Marketing research firm Prohibition Partners estimated in a recent market report that the country’s medical cannabis industry is worth $237 million.

In 2020, the Thai Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Tourism and Sports announced plans to host medical cannabis tours examining the plant’s role in traditional healing in eight provinces.

Thailand is becoming a hotspot for global cannabis tourism. While the “Sandbox” zones sound interesting, the country is home to several restaurants serving hemp cuisine. There’s also a food chain called The Pizza Company that serves the “Crazy Happy Pizza,”  a pie with flavors inspired by tom yum gai soup, with non-psychoactive cannabis present in the garnish, crust, and dipping sauce.

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Caitlin Donohue
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Caitlin Donohue is a Bay Area-raised, Mexico City-based cannabis writer and author of She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics and the World. Her weekly show Crónica on Radio Nopal explores Mexican marijuana culture and politics in the prohibition era. Follow Caitlin on IG @byrdwatch.
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