Thai households will be permitted to grow six cannabis plants apiece in order to boost the country’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry.
Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced the changes to Thailand’s cannabis regulations in a speech in Bangkok. He said that permitting home cultivation would allow Thais to boost their incomes and ensure that there are no supply shortages.
Thailand became the first country in southeast Asia to legalize medical marijuana on Dec. 26, 2018. The outgoing military junta led by Prayut Chan-o-cha gave it the green light and the industry has continued to gain momentum after Prayut was installed as Prime Minister following this year’s general election.
Anutin is the Deputy Prime Minister as well as the Health Minister, and he is the driving force behind Thailand’s liberalization of cannabis. He said his administration is in the process of changing laws to freely allow the medical use of marijuana.
“We have high confidence that marijuana will be among the major agricultural products for Thai households,” added Anutin, who pledged to speed up changes to the current regulations.
Anutin leads the Bhum Jai Thai party, which is now a member of the ruling coalition along with Prayut’s Palang Pracharath party. He is keen to see marijuana legalized for recreational purposes, but said it is unlikely to happen during the four-year term of the current government.
Thailand is currently working on legislation surrounding foreigners who want to get into its marijuana trade. The Ministry of Public Health has drafted a new rule that allows foreigners to hold shares in a cultivation firm as long as the holding does not exceed 33%.
The country’s Narcotics Control Board will be tasked with assessing license applications if the proposed regulations are approved.
The Thai government has a production facility near Bangkok and it yielded its first batch of cannabis oil. Authorities have also turned illicit cannabis seized from the black market into medical marijuana products, but there is still a chronic supply shortage and Anutin hopes widespread home cultivation will help alleviate that.