Much like the rest of the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Thailand tourism industry has been decimated. With a massive strain on the economy, Thailand has looked for private cultivation and the sale of medical marijuana to help ease that financial blow. They are looking for the private sector, to help accelerate industry growth.
August 4th, the Cabinet amended the Narcotics Act. The amendment (if passed by Parliament) would allow private medical operators, farmers, and some traditional medical practitioner’s to begin cultivation. The amendment would also allow both the export and import of cannabis.
Being a top tourist destination in the world. “Marijuana will be another attraction for the country and medical tourists,” Marut Jirasrattasiri, said private medical practitioners licensed through the State “will gain the right to grow, produce and export marijuana.” This is also looked to supplement local Thai farmer’s income.
Thailand’s Declining GDP: Marijuana the Saviour
Thailand’s GDP is predicted to shrink by 8.5% in 2020 due to the pandemic. This projected to be the biggest decline in South East Asia. The government views marijuana as a supplement to soften the economical blow from the pandemic.
Currently, marijuana cultivation is done exclusively by the government or other closely monitored associations. Marijuana also remains a category-5 drug. Therefore in Thailand, illegal possession can trigger a 10-year sentence. Further trafficking is a crime punishable by life imprisonment, or even death. Although sentencing has softened in the courts in recent years.
Thailand is looking to include foreigners in its next stage of “legalization”. Unlike in some countries, foreigners will have the opportunity to be treated therapeutically. This will be an added revenue stream for Thailand’s 23 health-care operators. A massive weight of the revenue brought in by these providers comes from foreign patients. The majority of those patient’s come from much more restrictive Stave Governments such as China and the Middle East.