Yet another country to remove hemp extracts and cannabis from its list of narcotics and banned substance, Thailand has too joined the CBD bandwagon. CBD has been gaining immense popularity among consumers all around the world, right from the western countries like the United States, Canada to the Asian lands of Thailand, hemp extracts are being made legal for consumer use.
CBD is an anti-inflammatory and non-psychoactive compound derived from hemp, a cannabis genus plant. It is widely popular for treating anxiety, stress, depression, insomnia and even seizures in the most rare and severe cases of epilepsy. Some people have also reported benefits of CBD in cases of Alzheimer’s – a condition where patients lose their memory permanently.
For years, doctors and scientists have been struggling to find a medicinal miracle which cures life threatening ailments like Alzheimer’s, cancer and Tourette’s. But it was only after people tried their hands on CBD which convinced doctors and officials to think about the legality of the compound.
In an effort towards advancing medicine and to promote the development of cannabis products in the medical industry, Thailand has legalized cannabis and other hemp extracts. Thailand isn’t as new to cannabis as the United States or United Kingdom. It has traditionally been using marijuana to relieve fatigue and pain.
CBD, a hemp-derived extract is known to treat inflammation, acute pain, chronic ache, swelling, irritation and help with faster recovery from injuries and accidents. Following the boom in CBD industry, Thailand also legalized marijuana for medical use and research last year to support its economy in terms of agricultural income.
Tares Krassanairawiwong, Secretary-General of the Thai Food and Drug Administration, said that the sole intention of legalizing marijuana is to allow certain extracts to be used for medical purposes, cosmetics and food industry, and also to support hemp as a cash crop.
The Sec-Gen also added that hemp seed and oil would also be exempted under the new law. This will not only pave way for a larger consumer market space which will offer products in almost every niche- lifestyle, health, well-being, nutrition, cosmetics, fashion, medicine- but it will also help consumers live a healthier and better life.
However, cannabis legalization isn’t an overnight rule with a five-pointer instruction paper handed out to stakeholders. Infact, it follows a lengthy set of regulations that are to be created for a safe and efficient market place for the public. Cannabis not only contains CBD, but also THC, tetrahydro cannabinoid, a psychoactive compound.
THC is the substance which leads to hallucinations and causes users to experience a feeling of euphoria, when they smoke pot or weed. Governments have to ensure that only verified products with a safe concentration level of THC (such as 0.2% per unit) are distributed in the market, else it will be dealing with public health crisis.
So far, only research facilities and hospitals are allowed to apply for licences to create medical extracts from cannabis in Thailand, but businesses are on their way to attain the same.
Ishan Shah, a part of the billionaire Shah family, created a new brand known as the “Ganja Group” in Bangkok. Shah plans to supply medical cannabis to the family’s GP Group’s pharmaceutical arm, Megalife Sciences PCL.
Shah said that the company is working towards CBD extraction and that it is their short term goal. The cannabis market in Thailand is expected to reach a whopping $660 million by 2024, according to Prohibition Partners, an analysis firm.
The regulator said that cannabis extracts and hemp plants such as pure cannabidiol (CBD) based products with THC content less than 0.2% were removed from the list of narcotics Category 5 schedule.
The government hasn’t released licenses for businesses yet.
Category 5 drugs are considered punishable by up to 15 years in prison along with fines that can go up to 1.5 million baht ($49,019.61).
Douglas Abrams, the Managing Director of an early stage venture capital fund manager, Expara said that the company aims at raising $30 million by December this year to invest in marijuana related technology. He said that the regulatory environment for cannabis is a leading indicator towards a fast growing industry.
Cannabis production, agriculture and sales is limited to only licenced Thai producers for five years to protect the domestic industry of Thailand.
Some of the 334 permits have been issued to mainly health agencies and hospitals, according to the information by the FDA. Thailand recently delivered its first batch of 10,000 bottles of cannabis oil extract in the last month to its patients.