As Thailand moves to end confusion over its cannabis laws with the new prime minister, Srettha Thavisin, the country’s tourism industry has welcomed the move.
The partial legislation of cannabis last year in June had an instant effect, and almost overnight, hundreds of coffee shops and dispensaries selling cannabis products appeared across Thailand, particularly in Bangkok and other popular tourist destinations.
However, the hazy nature of legalisation created a legal vacuum and a lot of confusion on what types of products would be legal in the long term.
Following his comments to journalists in September, where Srettha stated that “cannabis policy will be medical cannabis”, the prime minister began the countdown to a reformed cannabis economy by declaring that legislation to limit the drug to medicinal use only would be put in place within six months.
Somil Sawansukha, co-founder and business development at Eastern Spectrum Group – a manufacturer of medical-grade and hemp-derived cannabinoid products– said: “We had anticipated that whichever government was elected would announce this policy. Any steps towards clearer regulations are good for the industry here in the long term, as they allow players like us to plan ahead with our investment in beneficial medicinal products.
“At ESG, we have always focused on the medicinal side of the plant and, therefore, operate a processing facility that adheres to international medical production standards.”
Believing that the development would not harm the recovery of the Thai tourism industry, he added: “Overall, the impact on tourism should not be significant. Tourism in Thailand was growing even before the legalisation. On the other hand, it might be better for the tourism sector as more families will feel safe travelling to Thailand, allowing the country to emerge as a medicinal tourism hub by providing high-quality cannabis and hemp products.”
According to Arun Avery, content manager for Highland Network, operators of the Highland Café, the new direction was always expected to happen.
“A lot of politicians or their relatives have invested in cannabis. They have consistently advocated for cannabis to be added to the narcotics list to have more control over the products and create revenue through licensing. If this is the plan, then new regulations should be in place before cannabis use is reclassified,” opined Avery.