Thailand plans “cannabis tourism” scheme after decriminalising the plant

The “Highland” café in Bangkok sells cannabis-induces drink, sweets and smoothies

Thailand’s health ministry as part of accelerated plans to legalise cannabis for recreational use in the country is contemplating the setup of a so-called “cannabis sandbox scheme” for interested foreign tourists, according to various local media reports.

The move comes after the country’s Narcotics Control Board on January 25 endorsed the Public Health Ministry’s latest draft list of narcotic substances, in which all components of cannabis no longer appear as a “Category Five” narcotic substance – meaning it is no longer a criminal offense drug.

The planned tourism scheme, comparable to the current Covid-19 sandbox schemes in the country which allow foreign travelers access to designated areas under various pandemic control regulations, would determine certain regions in the country where cannabis could be consumed as a pastime.

No clear guidelines or proposed regulations have been made public yet, though, but the authorities are expected to determine the regions, age limits and other conditions probably as early as February this year. The only rule made clear so far is that the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol level of extracts produced from domestically grown cannabis would not be allowed to exceed 0.2 per cent, which is a very low rate.

“Maximise benefits of the plant”

The plans are part of an aim of Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a unit of the health ministry, “to maximise the benefits of the plant” following its removal of the non-psychoactive parts of cannabis from the latest list of prohibited drugs last year.

The FDA recognised cannabis and hemp as medicinal plants and economic crops last year, but they were not technically legal which has led to confusion among growers, law enforcement and health officials. It is understood that the administration now wants to put to use the best parts of the plants in both traditional and modern medical fields to produce medicine, but also use it to create cosmetics, clothing and cannabis-inspired food and beverages.

Reviving the ailing tourism industry

The idea of a cannabis sandbox scheme is also part of Thailand’s efforts to revive the ailing tourism industry.

“Of course, we won’t be opening cannabis cafes [for smokers] any time soon, but there are many different models overseas involving legal recreational use that we believe would suit our social context to choose from,” Paisarn Dankum, the FDA’s secretary-general, said.

“However, some restrictions on marijuana misuse must still be put into effect. For example, marijuana must be prohibited for people under 20 years of age, pregnant or lactating women. Selling for recreation is still considered illegal, but consideration is being given for designated sandbox areas.

“Cannabis economy”

Since the changes in Thailand’s cannabis policy, the country has developed some sort of “cannabis economy” expected to generate up to 7.6 billion baht ($230 million) by 2025 through various products and services. A further liberalisation including cannabis tourism schemes could not only increase that revenue substantially, but also be a windfall for farmers and producers alike, proponents of the new draft law say.



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[caption id="attachment_38138" align="alignleft" width="300"] The "Highland" café in Bangkok sells cannabis-induces drink, sweets and smoothies[/caption] Thailand’s health ministry as part of accelerated plans to legalise cannabis for recreational use in the country is contemplating the setup of a so-called “cannabis sandbox scheme” for interested foreign tourists, according to various local media reports. The move comes after the country’s Narcotics Control Board on January 25 endorsed the Public Health Ministry’s latest draft list of narcotic substances, in which all components of cannabis no longer appear as a “Category Five” narcotic substance – meaning it is no longer a criminal offense drug....

The “Highland” café in Bangkok sells cannabis-induces drink, sweets and smoothies

Thailand’s health ministry as part of accelerated plans to legalise cannabis for recreational use in the country is contemplating the setup of a so-called “cannabis sandbox scheme” for interested foreign tourists, according to various local media reports.

The move comes after the country’s Narcotics Control Board on January 25 endorsed the Public Health Ministry’s latest draft list of narcotic substances, in which all components of cannabis no longer appear as a “Category Five” narcotic substance – meaning it is no longer a criminal offense drug.

The planned tourism scheme, comparable to the current Covid-19 sandbox schemes in the country which allow foreign travelers access to designated areas under various pandemic control regulations, would determine certain regions in the country where cannabis could be consumed as a pastime.

No clear guidelines or proposed regulations have been made public yet, though, but the authorities are expected to determine the regions, age limits and other conditions probably as early as February this year. The only rule made clear so far is that the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol level of extracts produced from domestically grown cannabis would not be allowed to exceed 0.2 per cent, which is a very low rate.

“Maximise benefits of the plant”

The plans are part of an aim of Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a unit of the health ministry, “to maximise the benefits of the plant” following its removal of the non-psychoactive parts of cannabis from the latest list of prohibited drugs last year.

The FDA recognised cannabis and hemp as medicinal plants and economic crops last year, but they were not technically legal which has led to confusion among growers, law enforcement and health officials. It is understood that the administration now wants to put to use the best parts of the plants in both traditional and modern medical fields to produce medicine, but also use it to create cosmetics, clothing and cannabis-inspired food and beverages.

Reviving the ailing tourism industry

The idea of a cannabis sandbox scheme is also part of Thailand’s efforts to revive the ailing tourism industry.

“Of course, we won’t be opening cannabis cafes [for smokers] any time soon, but there are many different models overseas involving legal recreational use that we believe would suit our social context to choose from,” Paisarn Dankum, the FDA’s secretary-general, said.

“However, some restrictions on marijuana misuse must still be put into effect. For example, marijuana must be prohibited for people under 20 years of age, pregnant or lactating women. Selling for recreation is still considered illegal, but consideration is being given for designated sandbox areas.

“Cannabis economy”

Since the changes in Thailand’s cannabis policy, the country has developed some sort of “cannabis economy” expected to generate up to 7.6 billion baht ($230 million) by 2025 through various products and services. A further liberalisation including cannabis tourism schemes could not only increase that revenue substantially, but also be a windfall for farmers and producers alike, proponents of the new draft law say.



Support ASEAN news

Investvine has been a consistent voice in ASEAN news for more than a decade. From breaking news to exclusive interviews with key ASEAN leaders, we have brought you factual and engaging reports – the stories that matter, free of charge.

Like many news organisations, we are striving to survive in an age of reduced advertising and biased journalism. Our mission is to rise above today’s challenges and chart tomorrow’s world with clear, dependable reporting.

Support us now with a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will help us shine a light on important ASEAN stories, reach more people and lift the manifold voices of this dynamic, influential region.

 

 

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