Thailand's Health Minister Is About to Hit the Road for a Cannabis Tour
The country is banking on cannabis agriculture for its economic future, so some public education is in order.
Published on March 5, 2022

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A spokesperson for the Thailand government announced that its health minister Anutin Charnvirakul will embark on a 12-location cannabis information tour. The conferences are intended to provide information not only on cannabis’ health benefits, but also on what the plant could mean for the country’s struggling tourism industry. 

The first meeting will take place in the Surin province’s Rajamangala University of Technology from March 4-6. The name of the tour is "Unlock Cannabis-Hemp, Create Health, Make Money."

“We will prepare answers to everyone’s questions, from planting to further processing into products that generate income for individuals, and for the nation,” said spokesperson Phuwadej Surakot.

The topics addressed will include both “modern” and traditional cannabis medicine, current laws, academic research, hemp cultivation techniques, different cannabis strains, and economic implications — the latter including presentations on the development of cannabis tourism.

In February, Anuntin hailed the move to legalize as creating a “new history for cannabis.”

”Cannabis actually has plenty of medical benefits, not different from other herbs,” he continued. “And we are trying our best to make the Thai people enjoy both medical and economic benefits from it,”

Preparations for legal medicinal weed have been taking place since the decision was announced. The new regulations will go into effect on June 9 — 120 days after they were published in the government gazette on February 9.

The move did not definitively legalize recreational use or possession of cannabis. But it is legal for Thai residents to grow cannabis in their homes for personal medicinal purposes after registering with the government.

The health ministry has announced that it is working on regulations that would legalize recreational cannabis, and clear up guidelines surrounding production and commercial industry. Criminal penalties remain in place for cultivation without a license and selling cannabis, the latter of which can land you a roughly $9,000 USD fine and/or up to three years in prison.

Initial regulations regarding medicinal marijuana were published in Thailand in 2017, when a network of state-run clinics specializing in cannabis treatments were opened across the country. There is a long history in the region of utilizing the therapeutic benefits of cannabis to treat pain and fatigue.

Thailand is aiming for its cannabis industry to make waves — and not just in the health of its residents. A big part of this move to open access has to do with stimulating the economy in a country that has yet to recover after the past two years of COVID-19 pandemic. According to the World Bank, one-third of Thailand’s population is employed by its agriculture industry.

The government hopes to build a thriving medicinal marijuana industry, which industry analysts have valued at $237 million. In fact, officials have floated the idea of tourist-focused “cannabis zones,” in which visitors to Thailand can sample the cannabis products that are being manufactured.

Caitlin Donohue
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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