In Thailand, cannabis was removed from the narcotics list in 2022, leading to a rapid growth in the cannabis industry. While many countries in the Asian region still have strict regulations on cannabis, Thailand became the first to legalize it. Why did Thailand decide to legalize cannabis, and what are the implications for the country and the world?
Why was cannabis legalized?
In 2018, Thailand legalized the use of medical cannabis, gaining attention as one of the few countries in Asia to do so. In 2022, cannabis was removed from the narcotics list, allowing for the cultivation of cannabis in households as well. The legalization of cannabis is believed to be driven by scientific evidence demonstrating the efficacy of cannabinoids found in cannabis in cancer treatment, Alzheimer’s treatment, and epilepsy. Additionally, Thailand has a history of traditional medicine that utilized cannabis prior to the war era.
In addition to medical purposes, the legalization of cannabis for medical tourism purposes is likely aimed at stimulating the travel industry and agriculture. Allowing cannabis cultivation in households also aims to boost the economy of farmers by providing an alternative crop.
Cannabis is a versatile plant that can be utilized in almost all its parts. It is expected to be beneficial in various fields, including medicine, cosmetics, and textiles. Thai food and cosmetic manufacturers have already made investments in this regard. Ongoing developments and research in cannabis are expected to bring benefits in a wide range of industries.
On an economic level, the legalization of cannabis cultivation in Thailand may lead to a potential reduction in illegal cannabis trade from neighboring countries like Laos.
Concerns surrounding cannabis legalization
Cannabis is anticipated to bring significant benefits to the medical field, agriculture, the travel industry, and other sectors. However, there are several concerns associated with the legalization of cannabis, particularly regarding recreational use among teenagers.
Although there are regulations prohibiting the use of cannabis by minors, legal frameworks are still lagging behind, and some teenagers are reported to be using cannabis. The Addiction Research Center has also noted an increase in recreational cannabis use among individuals under 20 years old.
In addition to youth cannabis use, there are concerns about the increased risk of traffic accidents due to impaired driving under the influence of cannabis.
Thailand’s cannabis industry is experiencing rapid growth. While the global cannabis market is primarily dominated by well-established companies in the United States, Canada, and Europe, it is expected that Thai companies will also participate in the industry in the near future. However, there are several points of concern alongside the expansion of the cannabis industry. It is sincerely hoped that Thailand’s cannabis industry can grow in a responsible and sustainable manner.