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Cannabis tourism may be a key to Thailand’s recovery

PHOTO: Cannabis tourism maybe be a key to Thailand's recovery. (via Getnugg.com)

Thailand may have an opportunity to help recover its nearly dead tourism economy from an unusual source: cannabis tourism. Thailand is the first Southeast Asian country to legalise many aspects of cannabis – production and importing and exporting for medical use, and recently broader recreational use, with the first cannabis-infused drinks hitting convenience store shelves. This could open the door to a surge in medical and wellness tourism.

Cannabis has already become a huge industry, estimated this year at US$247 million in legal medical use and $424 million from illegal recreational use. It is predicted by 2024, legal Asian cannabis will be a $12.5 billion industry.

Covid-19 has devastated Thailand’s vital tourism industry, with foreign arrivals this year predicted to be just over 1% of the pre-pandemic figures, and cannabis tourism may lure luxury and upper middle class travellers, as well as elderly travellers and those suffering from cannabis-treatable afflictions such as cancer or epilepsy.

The cannabis industry may draw nearby tourists from other Asian countries as well, being the first country in the region to legalise it, though it may not offer as much of a draw from Americans where legalisation is much more widespread. But if Thailand promotes cannabis tourism with certified doctors and clinics as well as cannabis wellness resorts and medical tour packages, the industry could be a huge boon for the country.

Than Global Travel says a pilot program a few years ago attracted older travellers with medical issues, but also business owners looking to get into the cannabis market and millennials excited for the new experience. Their package was a 3-day, 2-night trip for around 9000 baht, but they also just launched a half-day tour in April that was stopped by the third wave of Covid-19.

The tour company plans to focus on medical tourism but also sees potential in factory tours for curious cannabis investors. They see the niche industry blowing up in the next 5 years, with Thailand uniquely poised to be at the forefront as a country already known for tourism and the first to legalise in the region.

But Thailand needs to act quickly to corner the emerging market. A stigma still exists as marijuana is often classified as a narcotic, even though it is not addictive like cigarettes and alcohol. But attitudes are changing, even in Asia, where both Malasia and Laos are making plans and eying the profitable cannabis market. The shifting culture seems to be heading towards legalisation for recreational use, and Thailand needs to start now if it hopes to be Southeast Asia’s premier cannabis tourism destination.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

26 Comments

  1. medical marijuana package tours?legal recreational caTours? has been mainstream years, months ago in most western countries. Just another limp “scheme”. tat: you missed the boat. again. No one’s coming till you drop your very confusing, ever changing rules about entry of vaccinated foreign tourists.

  2. Lets face it, if Thailand does it so will others follow and the cannabis available is not the stuff which has the “happy juice” etc in it. It is medicinal cannabis which can be really good for people. They need to just get on with vaccination of the population make the place safe to travel and people will come. Well ! if they can get out of their own country that is.

  3. I can’t see this making a positive difference to tourist numbers.
    I’ll just create problems for tourists that don’t know what’s legal and what’s illegal and could get them in serious trouble with the Thai authorities.

  4. Just what Thailand need, farang pot heads. This kids don’t have any money 😉

    So many ideas so little or no common sense. The tourist with “big money” will not travel to Thailand because you print a banner an send out a PM. That type of tourists actually read the world news an see how Thailand are falling apart, now when the true face of Thai leaders are so obvious shown.

  5. Is it April Fool’s Day again already? No one is coming here for low-test, low-tech hemp treats. May be a novelty thing for Asian grandfathers to try after a long day on the links, but that’s about it. Absurd.

  6. Great idea, unfortunately you’ve missed the first step of actually making it legal to purchase or consume. Sort out your “laws,” then you can start the promotions. *facepalm*

  7. Here in Phnom Penh I could be stoned every day of the week.
    Cafes with happy pizza, happy spaghetti, meaning cannabis laced food, and also grass is everywhere, but they are not busy. There is just not the call for the drug as is thought.

  8. If Thailand thinks they have a problem with corruption now, just wait till they fill the country with a semi legal narcotic. The a explosion in the black market alone will rival anything they have already seen to date. Heck counties where they fully legalized it have a huge problem with an increase in the black market.

  9. The word “scheme” says it all. Why not call it what it really is- a scam. Got high grade genetics? This isn’t Humboldt county Nor-Cal or Pac NW strains we are talking about-this is Thai ditch weed mostly. Certainly not cutting edge cloned hybrids, since the Thais don’t seem to understand the difference between hemp rope grade male plants and the THC laden female flowers/buds…DUH! Thai doctors don’t understand that CBD and other medically active cannabinoids produce effective healing only in tandem with the tri-chrome enriched THC activated parts of the plant, sorry you can’t have your bakery infused cake and get baked too. Newsflash to the men with the medals…no one wants to come to this “Key-Ru” authoritarian fief”dumb” fellas for weed. Why would you fly across oceans for “Ganja Tourism” when it’s legal in 24 US States and in Amsterdam as well as quasi-legal in Denmark. Smell the coffee? (All once illegal drugs now decriminalized and legal in Oregon too BTW) Who is going to believe the endless scam/schemes or trust a regime- who will sell it to you- then turn around and plant drugs on you, then arrest you over a joint of Thai schwag, and put you in jail for a year, and think for an instant that this (now null and void democracy) is the place for a “High Time” going forward…Party over dorks..And you can kiss your “center of medical tourism,” hopes bye bye, when they can’t even vaccinate more than 1 percent of their citizens 18 months after being the first country outside of China to have the virus? It’s not the locals fault, Thai aren’t born stupid, “they have to earn it” in puppet master schools where they are taught to become followers of symbols, by a social indoctrination system that ranks in the 23rd percentile in Science scores and 25th percent in maths? PS dipsticks- Not every tourist wants to get F’d up and poke bar-girls…who apparently think they are irresistable and that one “Thai small size” fits all.

  10. Legalise it and produce quality crop rather than the pesticide-infused, compressed bricks of crap. Plenty of rich folk smoke weed.

    @Artur Absolutely! Welcome to another comments section. 😀

  11. Supplying drugs to people is so anti-Buddhist I’m surprised that a government promotion of this scheme is even being considered. Doesn’t Buddha advise “ Do not seek the void”. Ministers and corporate principals providing addictive drugs for recreational use ? I would think these people would burst into flames when crossing the threshold of a temple.

  12. In Vietnam you can have a scooter come to you hotel with a menu. The names on the menu even match those used in weed stores in the US, purple kush, diesel haze, LA confidential to name a few. The quality is comparable to the bud you find in Canada. It might not be legal but nobody even bats an eye, even when you smoke it in a bar. Thailand would have to seriously deliver if they stepped into the cannabis tourism trade to attract serious connoisseurs.
    Everybody is to tired of Thailand talking for years about legalization why do we waste our time thinking that it’s ever going to happen.

  13. Marijuana is not physically addictive, it is psychologically addictive, and that’s worse. Get ready all cops for Cannabis breathalyzers, you are going to be busy, a booming wedge industry to support the police.

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