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Thai government to distribute free cannabis to households

The Thai government is set to distribute one million free cannabis plants to households in June.

This follows a new rule allowing residents to grow cannabis.

The country’s public health minister, who has spearheaded Thailand’s drive to decriminalize cannabis, said the government will distribute the plants for free next month when most legal restrictions on production and possession of the drug will have been lifted.

Announcing the decision earlier this month on Facebook, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said that he intended for cannabis plants to be grown like “household crops.”

Despite its harsh drug laws, Thailand was the first Southeast Asian country to legalize the medical use of marijuana in 2018.

Charnvirakul signed a measure in February officially removing cannabis and hemp from its list of controlled narcotics.

Thai officials hope that continuing to ease restrictions will not only allow entrepreneurs and businesses to bring more money into the country but also attract tourists after arrivals declined during the pandemic.

People will still need to abide by certain rules, including that the plants be of medical grade and used only for medicinal purposes.

Using all parts of cannabis plants, including flowers and seeds, will be allowed. However, extracted content will remain illegal if it contains more than 0.2 percent of the psychoactive ingredient that produces a “high” — tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

Homegrown marijuana cannot be used for commercial purposes without obtaining the necessary licences.

More than 4,700 applications for licenses have already been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration since April.

“This will enable people and the government to generate more than 10 billion baht per year in revenue from marijuana and hemp,” the health minister wrote.

In 2019, 39.9 million tourists visited Thailand. It’s estimated that 27.7 million will visit for the purpose of health and wellness in 2022, putting expenditure on health and wellness tourism at $2.5bn.

The country’s recreational cannabis market has the potential to be worth $424m by 2024, according to cannabis research firm Prohibition Partners, says the report.