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Thai government might buy private pot – Health Minister

Jack Burton

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Thai government might buy private pot – Health Minister | The Thaiger

After years of speculation, some members of the coalition Thai government are pushing efforts to allow Thais to grow up to six cannabis plants for sale to the government for medical marijuana. Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said he is pushing for the Government to change laws to allow the medical use of marijuana freely.

“We have confidence that marijuana will be among the major agricultural products for Thai households. We are speeding up the changes. But there is a process.”

In September, Anutin hinted that… “In the near future, families will be able to plant cannabis in their back gardens like any other herb.”

Thailand has built what the government describes as the largest, industrial scale medical marijuana facility in Southeast Asia.

In September, Maejo University researchers planted 12,000 marijuana seedlings in Chiang Mai while officials watched. They expect the plants will produce medical marijuana within six months, according to the Asia Times.

“The university will be a centre where ordinary people can learn how to plant and grow good quality cannabis. Cannabis is not political; it’s a product that can benefit people’s health,” according to Anutin.

While claiming cannabis is not a political issue, he caused a stir before Thailand’s general election in March, campaigning for legalising of household cultivation. He led his Bhumjaithai party’s campaign by promising each household could cultivate six marijuana plants. The Bhumjaithai party is now a vital part of the ruling coalition – without their votes the Palang Pracharat party would have not been able to form a government.

Anutin told voters before the election that the sale of each mature plant could earn up to 2,225 US dollars. A household could earn 13,350 dollars for selling six plants. An alluring thought, considering the average annual Thai salary is reportedly 8,200 dollars (24,000 baht per month) annually .

But experts caution that not every plant will produce medical grade cannabis, and the ones that do are hard to cultivate. Amateur cultivators might produce low grade plants, but without tending to the plants and investing nutrients and proper lighting equipment, the flowers produced might not qualify for medical use, purchasable by the government.

If recreational cannabis is allowed though, private growers could earn more with less quality control. But legislators warn there is a lot of legal distance between the current situation and the legalisation of recreational cannabis.

Anutin predicts fully legalised marijuana could be a more lucrative crop than rice, sugarcane, tapioca or rubber in the kingdom’s mostly agrarian economy.

Anutin believes Thailand could gain a competitive advantage by creating niche strains for export. Recreational cannabis remains illegal in the kingdom, with punishments including imprisonment.

SOURCE: Forbes

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Thailand

Cannabis could generate 8 billion baht for Thai pharmaceutical industry by 2025, expert says

Caitlin Ashworth

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Cannabis could generate 8 billion baht for Thai pharmaceutical industry by 2025, expert says | The Thaiger

Cannabis could become a major cash crop in Thailand. An expert says the cannabis-based medicinal products could generate up to 8 billion baht for the Thai pharmaceutical industry by 2025. Medical cannabis has been legal in Thailand for the past couple years, but recently the government agreed to allow parts of the plant with very, low traces of the “high-inducing” component tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, to be in medicinal products and food.

Cannabis-based medicines have been used as palliative treatment for some cancer patients in Thailand. Last year, nearly 1 million patients used cannabis-based medicines, according to an economist at Kasetsart University’s Agricultural and Resource Economics Department, Ravissa Suchato.

Around 1.2 billion baht worth of medical cannabis was consumed last year, according to Ravissa, who led a recent study on the economic impact of commercial cannabis cultivation in Thailand. If the average consumption rises as expected, medical cannabis could generate 8 billion baht within the next 5 years.

“We believe marijuana has great potential as a cash crop because more patients will start using marijuana-based drugs soon.”

In the past, Thai officials have discussed the opportunity to tap into the global cannabis market by exporting medical cannabis, but Ravissa says Thailand still has a way to go.

“Globally, the recreational use of marijuana has risen a lot faster than pharmaceutical use, so the prospect of exporting marijuana-based medicines from Thailand is still a long way off.”

Parts of the cannabis plant that are rich in THC, like the buds, are still illegal and classified as a Category 5 narcotic. Trafficking the plant is still heavily criminalised. Just over the past few days, border patrol police in the Northeastern province Nakhon Pathom seized hundreds of kilograms of dried, compressed cannabis believed to have been trafficked across the Mekong River from Laos and destined for the South, possibly to Malaysia.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Crime

Another drug bust near the Mekong River, 500 kilograms of cannabis seized

Caitlin Ashworth

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Another drug bust near the Mekong River, 500 kilograms of cannabis seized | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MGR Online

In another drug bust in Northeastern province Nakhon Phanom, police arrested a man and seized 500 kilograms of compressed cannabis. Just yesterday, border patrol police in the province seized 920 kilograms of compressed cannabis from a boat on the Mekong River. In both cases, police suspect the cannabis came from Laos, just across the river.

Police say they searched a black Nissan Navara pickup around 1am in the province’s Na Kae district. Police opened the truck’s bed cover and found 12 sacks with 500 packages of dried, compacted cannabis. Each package of cannabis weighed 1 kilogram, similar to the previous bust on the river.

28 year old Saravut Butngam was arrested. Saravut previously worked in construction, but has recently been unemployed. He allegedly told police that a man called him with an opportunity to make 50,000 baht. He was told to drive the pickup truck from a petrol station in the Na Kae district to a specified location in the neighbouring province Sakon Nakhon, police say. From there, another driver would take over.

Border police commander Sippanan Sornkhunkaew says he suspects the cannabis seized in the province was trafficked from Laos across the Mekong River. He says he believes the cannabis was planned to be trafficked to Southern Thailand and then smuggled across the border, possibly to Malaysia.

On Sunday morning, police confiscated 920 kilograms of cannabis from a boat on the Mekong River. When police approached the boat, men jumped off onto a smaller boat and fled the scene. The dried, compacted cannabis was wrapped in 1 kilogram packages.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Drugs

Police seize 920 kilograms of cannabis smuggled across the Mekong River

Caitlin Ashworth

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Police seize 920 kilograms of cannabis smuggled across the Mekong River | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

In a major bust on the Mekong River, notorious for drug smuggling, border patrol police seized 920 kilograms of dried, compacted cannabis from a boat along the Nakhon Pathom riverbank, bordering Laos.

Police were tipped off about a large shipment of drugs being trafficked across the Thai-Laos border. Police spotted a boat around 4am yesterday. When police moved in, men onboard the boat jumped onto a smaller boat and sped off. Police found 23 sacks filled with 1-kilogram packages of compressed cannabis.

Police seize 920 kilograms of cannabis smuggled across the Mekong River | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: MGR Online

In the recent months, police have seized more than 5 tonnes of cannabis. While the Thai government has been loosening measures on cannabis, allowing parts of the plant with low traces of the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, to be used in food and medicinal products, trafficking cannabis is still illegal. Cannabis with high amounts of THC is still classified as a Category 5 narcotic.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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