Thailand made history when it became the first country in its entire region to legalize cannabis for medical use just a handful of years ago. Whereas in other parts of the world where medical cannabis reform had long since occurred, Thailand is in a part of the world in which support for cannabis reform has been very slow to gain traction.
It took many years for medical cannabis legalization to arrive in Thailand. However, the country has certainly moved fast to try to make up for lost time. Thailand is now at the forefront of medical cannabis policy. Earlier this year, Thailand legalized home cultivation of up to six plants per household nationwide – something that is still not the case in many other nations.
The move by Thailand’s government was born out of a desire to boost local economies. Back in February 2021, Thailand’s deputy spokeswoman Traisulee Traisoranakul stated to international media that “Everybody has the right to grow marijuana by partnering up with provincial hospitals for medical use.” Those that choose to do so still have to receive government approval prior to engaging in transactions.
Government Loans For Cannabis Cultivation
In other countries near Thailand, selling cannabis carries horrific penalties. In fact, in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, people can be subjected to the death penalty if they are caught selling cannabis. Compare that to Thailand, where you can now apply for a government loan to help start a cannabis business.
Thailand’s Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) started offering loans to aspiring cannabis cultivators in September 2021. The government loan program is being marketed as providing financial assistance to farmers in Thailand that are looking for an alternative crop to rice, cassava, and rubber trees.
The interest rate for the government-backed cannabis loans is a mere 0.01% per year for the first three years. That is a far cry from what is going on in the United States, where many cannabis companies cannot even get a bank account for their cannabis venture, let alone a government loan with a minuscule interest rate.
Thailand’s Government Video Promotion
In many countries where cannabis is legal in some form, advertising is particularly difficult for cannabis entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, there is still cannabis stigma in some countries where cannabis is legal for medical use. That is not the case in Thailand, where the government is not only refraining from being a hurdle to advertising – it is making and promoting its own videos touting the country’s emerging cannabis industry.
“Thailand is a country that excels in providing medical and health services, which generate approximately 10 billion baht of income for the country. The government, therefore, aims to promote Thailand as a world medical hub to drive the economy in the future. One of the key policies is promoting the medical cannabis policy by enacting legislation that removes some parts of cannabis and hemp from Category 5 narcotic drugs, for medical purposes.” Thailand’s government stated in conjunction with releasing a medical cannabis industry hype video on YouTube in mid-September.
Thailand is embracing medical cannabis on a level that very few countries are matching, especially in Southeast Asia, where cannabis reform has been very slow to occur. Thailand is a glowing example of how a country can get on the right side of history while also creating economic opportunity for all levels of society. Hopefully, it inspires more countries in the region and the rest of the world to follow suit.
Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference. Upcoming conferences include Berlin (August 25-27), Zurich (August 31-September 1), and Barcelona (October 7).