Thailand has not always been a progressive country when it comes to cannabis. By deploying its medical legalization at high speed, it has however made up for lost time and has become more progressive than many European countries, including France.
Thailand was the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize cannabis for medical use. Initiated in 2018, the Thai medical cannabis program initially reserved the cultivation of cannabis at a university near Chang-Mai. A symbol of the desire for widespread access to cannabis, all Thai households can now grow cannabis for medical use and sell it to cooperatives.
The Thai government even gives very low interest loans to aspiring cannabis growers. Considering the harsh cannabis laws in the region, Thailand’s cannabis policy is particularly innovative.
Thailand’s Department of Traditional and Alternative Medicine has announced plans to register local cannabis strains as national heritage, promote research into their use, after which Thailand will seek Unesco recognition .
The department has collected more than 30 landraces and registered the DNA of each to create a database of strains grown natively in Thailand, the information from which will be used to register geographical indications. The country already uses its own cannabis strains from landraces to create its drugs.
Research on the benefits and uses of the strains will be carried out by the ministry, in collaboration with the University of Technology Rajamangala Isan Sakonnakhon Campus and the University Kasetsart Chalermphrakiat Sakon Nakhon Campus, said the Deputy Prime Minister.
“This will generate economic benefits for the country, and enhance farmers’ potential to compete in the global market, which will help reduce the trade deficit with other countries,” he said.
In addition to the national heritage listing, Anutin Charnvirakul, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health, said the Department of Medical Sciences has found that cannabis roots can help restore lung function which have been damaged by the Covid-19 infection.
Anutin Charnvirakul said he fully supports research on the subject, saying it would be a huge advantage for Thai medical professionals if they could offer cannabis-based treatment to patients diagnosed with Covid-19.
During the inauguration of a cannabis event in Nakhon Phanom last December, Anutin Charnvirakul, promised that cannabis, along with hemp, would be removed from the list of narcotics in 2022, a movement already begun by removing from list some parts of the plant. However, parts containing more than 0.2% THC are currently still illegal for recreational use.
The start of a trend?
Thailand is obviously not the only region on the planet where cannabis strains are synonymous with the country itself. Jamaica is well known for its cannabis strains, as are South American countries such as Colombia and its famous Colombian Red strain.
Mexico, which is in the process of legalizing, like Jamaica and Colombia, is also famous for varieties such as Acapulco Gold, Michoacan and Oaxacan.