Updated: Oct 21, 2022
On 9 June 2022, Thailand became the first country in Asia to decriminalize cannabis nationwide as Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed marijuana and hemp from the Category 5 narcotics list. This progressive change in legislation generally grants Thais the freedom to grow cannabis and sell cannabis-infused products - namely CBD with the aim of promoting it for medical use. This is another step forward since medicinal use was legalized back in 2018.
In 2021, global sales for medicinal cannabis were estimated at over $37 billion with Thailand’s cannabis market expected to reach $1.2 billion by 2025. With that said, the government believes that legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis will ultimately lead Thailand to become a herbal hub in the region. The legalization of the once-prohibited herb has now generated a wave of demand for infused products throughout all industries.
Thailand’s Ganja Fever Begins
Currently, 7-Eleven and Lotus’s shopping malls are already selling all types of cannabis-infused products, namely food, drinks, and beauty products. Even major brands in the F&B industry like Pizza Company also jumping on the ganja train by rolling out menus topped with the iconic leaf.
In more touristy areas like Phuket, you’ll notice small shops displaying ready-roll joints and jars of flowers for customers to walk in and purchase off the shelf.
Despite the national eruption for cannabis in the market, Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health has designated marijuana and hemp as ‘controlled plants’ stating that products with extracts containing over 0.2% of THC are still considered to be illegal.
A Guide to Cannabis Usage in Thailand
On the flip side, after the decriminalization of cannabis in Thailand was announced, there has been a spike in recreational use in an open and public way, but this doesn’t mean that it’s entirely legal. So this is where it gets confusing. As many question marks pop up on what you can and cannot do when it comes to cannabis usage, we’ve compiled some information to help make the picture clearer. Below is an infographic of the things you can and cannot do regarding cannabis usage;
On the safe side, we’d recommend that you acquire a doctor’s prescription for medical use at an approved hospital and clinic or get your products from a properly licensed dispensary which can be found here.
Additionally, back in August 2022, Thailand’s Public Health Minister hinted at a further step to liberalize cannabis for recreational use in the future. In the meantime, let’s explore what health benefits cannabis products bring to the table.
The Benefits of Cannabis
Before we dive into the benefits of cannabis, it’s important to know that the plant is made up of over 120 components with CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) being the most well-known. In short, CBD is commonly known for its medical purposes due to its non-intoxicating and non-euphoric component. It is often found in oil form, in gummies, and infused with food and drinks. For THC, its component is mostly known for getting you ‘high’ but when used properly, it also offers other health benefits such as relieving pain.
Alleviate Anxiety and Elevates Calmness
According to research in the National Library of Medicine, with the right amount of consumption, cannabis can help alleviate anxiety and panic disorders, especially with CBD. Various other studies also point toward the effectiveness of CBD when treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, and PTSD.
The chemical compounds found in cannabis have been proven to help relieve neuropathic pain and inflammation. Recent studies have shown that using CBD can help treat epilepsy and regulate other seizure syndromes by providing relief of chronic pain. Both THC and CBD help with pain reduction as we often see the infusion of CBD commonly found in creams and balms which are used to treat arthritis.
Improves Sleep and Eases Depression
As mentioned earlier, cannabis usage can help reduce your level of anxiety therefore making you more relaxed. The calming effect ultimately generates a peaceful night’s sleep as your stress and anxiety levels are reduced - with the Indica strain being the preferred option. A study by Sleep Foundation suggests that 65% of the participants in their research improved their sleep cycle after the use of CBD products. In addition, the endocannabinoid compounds found in cannabis can help stabilize your mood which ultimately eases depression.
Improves Lung Capacity
As we all know, smoking cigarettes or tobacco negatively affects your lung functions over time. But what about pot smokers? A study by The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that low to moderate consumption of marijuana doesn’t cause harm to the lungs but in fact, helped increase the capacity. Although it is hard to define what ‘moderate’ use is - the research claims that smoking one joint per day for as long as 7 years doesn’t seem to affect lung function negatively. This information ultimately helps marijuana users breathe a little easier - both figuratively and literally.
Cannabis Helps Fight Cancer
One of the greatest medical benefits of cannabis usage that has been floating around is that it helps fight cancer. Not only has CBD usage become widespread in alleviating the effects of chemotherapy, but there is also scientific evidence supporting that THC and other cannabinoids display anti-cancer activities. Such activities include inducing the death of cancerous cells, preventing tumor growth, and containing the spread of malignant cells, especially in the early stages.
Sources: Lonely Planet, TATnews.org, Phuket Cannabis Cafe, Cannabis for Thailand, Greenhead Clinic, The Standard, Health Europa, Sleep Foundation