Thailand Officially Legalizes Low-THC Hemp Foods and Cosmetics for Medical Use
Even though Thailand is quickly becoming Southeast Asia's leader in cannabis reform, anyone caught with high-THC cannabis flower can still be jailed or put to death.
Published on November 30, 2020

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The Thai government has authorized the use of low-THC hemp for making cannabis-infused food and cosmetic products, a move designed to expand its growing medical cannabis program. 

Thai health secretary Dr. Kiattiphum Wongrajit said that the country's Narcotics Control Committee just resolved to exclude the branches, leaves, stems, trunks, fiber, bark, and roots of the cannabis plant from its list of banned narcotics. This list covers almost every part of the cannabis plant – with the exception of flower, which remains strictly prohibited.

Dr. Paisal Dunkhum, secretary-general of the country's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that these new rules will allow the creation of cannabis-infused cosmetics, foods, and other personal and healthcare products. Ending restrictions against cannabis stems and trunks will also allow businesses to use these fibers to create textiles, garments, rope, and other commodities.

The Thai FDA is now working on drafting public health regulations to cover these newly-legal cannabis products. The regulations will also cover hemp seeds, seed extracts, and CBD, and THC concentrations of up to 0.2 percent will be tolerated. In order to become law, these regulations must still be approved by the public health minister and published in the country's Royal Gazette.

Any business wishing to use cannabis plant material must source it from an authorized producer, which can include government organizations as well as modern or traditional medical practitioners. Individual Thai citizens can even apply for authorization to grow low-THC hemp for community-based enterprises and community cannabis cooperatives. The government does not place any limits on how much hemp authorized individuals or organizations can grow.

Southeast Asian countries are renowned for their hatred of cannabis, but Thailand bucked this trend early last year by legalizing medical marijuana. The country wasted no time in rolling out its medical marijuana program, and government officials began distributing legal cannabis oils to hospitals only 8 months after legalization. Since then, Thailand has thoroughly embraced its medical marijuana program, and the country's prime minister even posed for pictures with a medical cannabis vape and a weed mascot.

Thailand's medical marijuana program continues to expand, but this expansion does not extend to high-THC cannabis. Even a tiny scrap of marijuana can land you in a Thai prison for up to 5 years, and anyone caught with over 10kg of pot can be legally executed. But as government officials gradually loosen their medical marijuana laws, it seems more and more likely that these extreme punishments will eventually become a thing of the past.

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Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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