In June of this year Thailand decriminalised cannabis almost overnight. With the intentions of sparking a new industry and economic power for the country, little regulation was set out to manage the market.
Despite its reputation, Thailand has some of Asia’s most progressive cannabis laws. Medical cannabis was legalised in 2018 and the CBD food landscape has been able to flourish considerably in the past couple of years, and especially so this year. The change in regulations announced in June also brought a stream of opportunities in food and beverage and anecdotal evidence of increased recreational smoking. The recent Asian Cannabis Report: 2nd Edition predicts the legal market could feasibly see sales of US$23 million by 2026 in the domestic market alone, not including exports to the international market.
Public opinion on cannabis in the country has followed suit with a more positive outlook, even more so following the changes in June. As of 2021, it was reported that 1.89 million Thai people aged 18-25 years (4.3% of the population) have used cannabis. This number has doubled and legalisation has normalised buying cannabis from multiple sources; from black markets to retail shops.
‘I think the biggest change I’ve seen in Thailand is that people are accepting and talking about cannabis. We don’t have to sneak about anymore. But right now, the black market is still growing exponentially. There are lots of growers, the price is going down. People who have money don’t care about the law.’Kitty Chopaka, a prominent Thai cannabis activist.
On 12th of this month Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health tightened the regulations on cannabis. The new edict followed an injunction request on Thursday by the leader of the opposition party, Dr.Chonlanan Srikaew, along with the Forensic Physician Association of Thailand. The request pointed to the lack of regulations in place and claimed cannabis decriminalisation had done more harm than good.
While the initial decriminalisation of cannabis was to promote the benefits of cannabis cultivation to small farmers, the enthusiasm of the recreational market has brought on the latest amendments. The new regulations reclassify just cannabis flower as a controlled substance and added more restrictions for consumers.
- Anyone wanting to study, distribute or process cannabis flower for commercial purposes will need to apply for permits.
- It restricts the sale of cannabis flower to anyone pregnant or breastfeeding, students and those under 20 years old.
- All forms of advertising are prohibited.
- Cannabis cannot be sold in vending machines, public parks, places of worship or hotels.
Prohibition Partners Analyst, and author of The Asian Cannabis Report: 2nd Edition, Conor O’Brien Gave his insight into the recent changes. “There has been much ambiguity in the cannabis regulations in Thailand, both in the wording and in the stated intention of the laws. While medical cannabis has been intentionally legalised, recreational cannabis has become legal via a loophole in the legislation for decriminalisation. In introducing restrictions on who can purchase cannabis, the new laws tighten this loophole, but do not close it. For example, the government will now not allow sales to continue online but has not been firm in establishing a total ban on recreational sales. On the other hand, the rules have been relaxed for medical cannabis, by redefining cannabis buds as the controlled part of the plant (not the whole plant) the government makes it easier for companies to process and supply medical cannabis for patients.”
It remains to be seen what other regulations Thailand will add as they build out their new legal market, and how that may affect its value over the next few years. Regardless of how Thailand shapes its cannabis industry, it remains a progressive and positive step for cannabis legalisation in Asia.
The Asian Cannabis Report: 2nd Edition explores the regulations and market developments in the most populous continent in the world. Prohibition Partners and Teera Group uncover unique, country-specific challenges across Asia for cannabis, which have different laws and regulations in place. This report combines exclusive interviews with real industry specialists across the region, consumer behaviours and commercial opportunities. What we have uncovered is merely the beginning of one of the largest new CPG markets in the recent history of the region.
GET THE ASIAN CANNABIS REPORT: 2ND EDITION