What seemed impossible ten years ago is tomorrow's norm. Such a statement is currently echoed in Thai drug policy. The military government has opened up for the first time in four decades to planting, manufacturing, and distributing products from the cannabis plants as well as their derivatives. The new laws have entered with force in a society accustomed to using cannabis for at least 1,000 years.
Taking this into perspective, the prohibition would be but a brief and uncomfortable hiatus, which the Thais will forget as quickly as they forgot the benefits of the ancestral ganja.
Proof of this ancient culture is the restaurant "Ganja Ros", which translates as "Taste of Ganja". Its location could not be less peculiar: it is the kitchen of a hospital in Prachin Buri province, 160 km from Bangkok. It opened its doors in January 2021, with a balanced and healthy menu, including fried cannabis leaves in sandwiches, meats with basil, and ganja leaves, all battered with hemp bread. Although it’s important to mention that their food contains no euphoric THC, only medium levels of CBD, CBG, and other cannabinoids.
Thailand is currently the only country in Southeast Asia that has substantially relaxed its prohibitionist policy. It focuses on medicinal applications of Thai cannabis, with strong involvement and overside from the state. Not only does the state system keep the lion's share of the profits, but it also plans to authorize self-cultivation only under the condition of monopolizing its purchase and processing.
Despite the state monopoly, more than 700 companies and individuals have been granted licenses to distribute, process, or plant cannabis. This is an unprecedented milestone in Thailand's history and that of its region. The Thai cannabis market could be worth around $2 billion, thanks to an invaluable climate and the reputation of its strains.
This economic incentive did not go unnoticed by the powerful Thais who, like most of the world's economies, are eager for an investment opportunity of this magnitude.
It will be left to see if other countries in the region follow their example, but nevertheless, it’s a strong signal to the governments and the people of Asia that Cannabis will be a force to be reckoned with in the future global trade.
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