Thailand is on course to release its first state-produced cannabis oil to patients by July after the first buds began to flower.

The outgoing Thai military government legalized medicinal marijuana before it was due to leave office in March 2019. It was deemed to be a popular policy with the people of Thailand, and the government created a multimillion-dollar site in Pathumthani province, just north of Bangkok.

The first phase of the project involves cultivating 140 cannabis plants. They have started to flower and they will need around 10 weeks to mature before the team there can extract the CBD and THC and create the first 2,500 bottles of cannabis oil.

Once this is complete a $5 million project will begin to convert more of the facility to be ready for cannabis cultivation. “The specialists still need to closely monitor the growth of the cannabis buds, because this is the first time for us to grow our own medical-grade cannabis, which requires very intensive care,” said Dr Sophon Mekthon, chair of the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation.

In March, Thailand held its first election since Prayuth Chan-ocha’s military junta seized control in a 2014 coup. The results were revealed last week and no party received an absolute majority.

A civilian government is due to take power in the weeks ahead and Chan-ocha is odds-on to keep his job as prime minister. The military wrote the constitution in 2017, and rules within it help the military.

Opposition party Pheu Thai won the most seats in the House of Representatives, with 136, while another pro-democracy party, Future Forward, clinched 80, and pro-military party Palang Pracharat took 115.

In total, opposition parties won 245 seats, which is just short of a majority, and that means Chan-ocha is likely to continue in the post. However, challenges are afoot, the poll is disputed and alternative candidates are gaining momentum.

This could derail Thailand’s nascent cannabis industry, but right now the team is pressing ahead with the cultivation scheme green-lighted by Chan-ocha.

The latest Prohibition Partners report claims the Thai cannabis industry will grow to $661 billion by 2024. It could also become a major exporter due to its cultivation expertise, ideal climate and cheap labour costs.

A delegation from Nigeria, led by the chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, is currently in Thailand to learn more about cannabis cultivation and extraction. Nigeria is mulling over a legal marijuana trade and it wants to learn more about the Thai government’s success in this department.

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