The Bangkok Post has reported that the Thai government has removed cannabis and hemp extracts from its narcotics list. The move is expected to benefit the developing medical cannabis industry and open up possible opportunities for businesses to delve into the development of marijuana products for medical use.
Thailand, which has a tradition of using cannabis to relieve pain and fatigue, legalised marijuana for medical use and research last year to help boost agricultural income. Despite the positive move towards legislation, only hospital and research facilities have been cleared to apply for licences to develop medical extracts from cannabis.
“The intention is to allow extracts to be used in medicine, cosmetics and food and support hemp as a cash crop,” Tares Krassanairawiwong, secretary-general of the Food and Drug Administration, told reporters, adding that hemp seed and oil would also be exempt.
Ishaan Shah, from the billionaire Shah family, founded the Ganja Group in Bangkok and plans to supply medical cannabis to the family’s GP Group’s pharmaceutical arm, Megalife Sciences Plc.
“We are working towards cannabidiol [CBD] extraction, that’s our short-term goal,” Shah told Reuters.
Extracts from cannabis and hemp plants such as pure CBD, CBD-based products and products with THC content of less than 0.2%, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, were removed from the narcotics Category 5 schedule, the regulator said. Category 5 drugs are punishable by up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to 1.5 million baht.
Cannabis production, cultivation and sale is limited to licensed Thai producers for five years to protect the domestic industry, Mr Tares said, adding that it was reviewing regulations that would allow businesses to apply for permits.
Some 334 permits have been issued so far, mainly to hospitals and health agencies, according to the FDA website.
Thailand delivered its first patch of 10,000 bottles of cannabis oil extract to patients last month.
The local cannabis market is expected to reach $660 million and the estimated medical cannabis market for Asia will likely reach in excess of 5 billion in 2024 according to analysis firm Prohibition Partners. With the inaugural launch of Medical Cannabiz Asia in Bangkok set for June 22-23rd June 2020, the timing couldn’t be better.