The Kingdom of Thailand is metamorphosing from a drug-free zone to a place where patients can legally obtain extracted forms of medical cannabis.
In an attempt to bolster the market that is blooming across the predominantly Buddhist Southeast Asian country, lawmakers have decided to eliminate low-level cannabis and hemp extracts from its list of forbidden banned narcotic substances list; they are now listed as Category 5 narcotics.
“The intention is to allow extracts to be used in medicine, cosmetics and food and support hemp as a cash crop,” the Secretary-General of Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration, Tares Krassanairawiwong, announced to reporters.
Patients will now be able to get their hands on oil derived from hemp seed, say officials. Extracts will also be permitted when derived from cannabis, as long as they contain less than 0.2 percent of the psychoactive substance THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Extracted hemp and cannabis products will now be classed as Category 5 substances. Based on the terms of the Kingdom’s Measure for Suppressing Narcotic Offenders Act, this category includes cannabis, kratom and mushrooms.
Despite the fact that cannabis and hemp extracts fall into the list of prescribed medical cannabis in Thailand, the laws are still pretty harsh. Anyone who is caught committing a Category 5 drug offence will be faced with a 15-year stint behind bars. Additionally, convicted individuals could be slapped with a 1.5 million baht ($48,954) fine.
Thailand’s medical cannabis market launched in December
On December 25, 2018, Thailand legalized cannabis for medical purposes. Kratom was also legalized in December. The initiative passed through the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) with a parliamentary vote of 166-0.
Krassanairawiwong says that only licensed domestic producers will be allowed to participate in Thailand’s medical cannabis industry. As a means of safeguarding the industry, this rule will be valid for the first five years of the program’s roll-out.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more than 334 cannabis business permits have already been issued in Thailand. The vast majority of business permits have been distributed among health agencies and hospitals.
The industry is set to grow further, with more business permits expected to open for application in the near future; regulations are being hashed out for this.
Extracts producers see opportunity in Thailand’s medical cannabis market
Although the application process for cannabis production is currently only open to hospitals and research facilities, companies specializing in the cannabis space are eyeing up opportunities in Thailand.
One such example is Colorado-based CBD producer, C-Beyond Health Inc., which announced in March that it was venturing into Thai cannabis territory after being on the receiving end of an investment from a Hong Kong company called Triple Ten Ltd.
According to the Bangkok Post, Thailand’s medical cannabis market will be worth $21 billion by 2024.
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