First Legal Weed Farm To Be Built In Thailand
After the admission of former Justice Minister Paiboon Khumchaya that Thailand had lost the so-called War on Drugs and called for more realistic narcotics policies, efforts to amend the laws to allow limited uses of banned substances are moving forward, albeit out of the public eye.
The law was changed to allow farmers to grow hemp and legal amendments for marijuana and amphetamines to be used for medical treatment are being debated.
Marijuana decriminalization activists hailed news that cannabis will be grown legally for the first time in Thailand, possibly in the Sakon Nakhon province.
Founder of Highland, a group of advocates for cannabis legalization, Rattapon Sanrak, said that although reported plans to build a plantation in Sakon Nakhon province aren’t a done deal, officials have taken positive steps by going ahead with the project.
There are rumors of a possible construction of a 5,000 rai (800 hectare) facility after drug authorities confirmed plans to legalize cannabis for medical purposes, though health officials said that they were yet to be informed about it. The public health ministry – which would be responsible for facilitating studies using marijuana extracts – said it has only heard about the planned plantation in Sakon Nakhon from the media.
“We have never spoken about this,” spokeswoman Sirima Teerasak said. “The ministry is only doing work with the decriminalization of hemps. But there’s no information about marijuana.”
Rattapon Sanrak said, “I think it will certainly help build a positive image,” “Apart from image, it will help the patients. And if they can distribute it to farmers, instead of letting several corporations have a monopoly, it will also help farmers to have more revenue.”
Rattapon also said it’s very unlikely that marijuana will be sold over-the-counter like many states in the US that has legalized medical and recreational use. Instead, he said, they will likely be processed not for their THC – the substance that gets people high – but for compounds such as cannabidiol, or CBD, which is known for its medicinal properties and helps in treatment of seizure and cancer treatment studies.
The director at the Office of Narcotics Control Board, Mana Siripithayawat, said the changes are consistent with UN consensus to move away from harsh suppression and punitive tactics to more pragmatic policies to manage use. Mana said the authorities have no wish to repeat the bloody drug war that left 2,500 dead two decades ago.
“You can put me on record saying this: We have tried the Philippines way, and it failed,” said Mana, who’s in charge of the agency’s laws department, referring to the policies put in place in that country since the election of Rodrigo Duterte that have seen an estimated 13,000 slain in extra-judicial killings.
Prapat Panyachartraksa, Farmer association chairman told the media that its crops would be harvested solely for medical research, adding that he had been notified about the plan by the Narcotics Control Board, the agency responsible for enforcing drug laws.
Any unlicensed cultivation, use or sale of marijuana remains illegal, though in October anti-drug officials said they would move toward the partial decriminalization of cannabis for medical use.
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