The government in Thailand legalized the cultivation of cannabis with some restrictions. The decision has excited Thai growers who hope all restrictions will be lifted. The government expects increased tourism, although the use of cannabis is exceeding the restrictions set by Thai law. Voice of America reporter Vijitra Duangdee brings the details with the following material.
Thai Piyatida Jantra started her journey as an illegal cannabis grower three years ago. As of June 9, it now legally supplies dispensaries with cannabis products after Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia to decriminalize it.
“I usually cultivate varieties that have a high yield and are aromatic. But I always like to try growing cannabis from different growers as well. Before cannabis was legal, I lived in secret and in fear. Now that marijuana has become legal, I am calm”…says farmer Piyatida Jantra.
The government hopes to benefit from medical marijuana in the hope that it will also increase tourism.
Under Thai law, cannabis is restricted for medicinal or food use and must contain less than 0.2 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or the psychoactive compound that stimulates the part of the brain associated with pleasures, such as food and sex.
Despite the restrictions, cannabis in this country is being used beyond what is allowed under the new law.
Shops, bars and street vendors are selling cannabis products, from cannabis cigarettes to candies filled with “terpenes”, the chemical compound that gives cannabis its aroma and taste.
One of Thailand’s eastern province areas, Chonburi, hopes to become a major destination for medical marijuana. Decriminalization is also helping small farmers benefit from this multi-billion dollar industry.
“We have just launched a project to work with 5,000 farms across Thailand to train them on how to grow cannabis alongside doctors, who also need to learn the medical benefits of cannabis. We are also dealing with young people who may travel here thinking Thailand is the ‘Amsterdam of Asia’, says Ms Thepcharoen.
The limited cannabis permit was intended to help small farmers like Piyatida. For now, her orders have increased. But the Thai parliament will debate a cannabis bill in the coming weeks to improve the law.
Some fear the law could eliminate non-medicinal use, hurting small growers like Ms Piyatida. The latter says that if the Thai government is serious about this, then the restrictions should be lifted altogether. Mrs. Piyatida says she dreams of the day when she can see the fields covered with cannabis, just like the corn fields./VOA
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