Thailand will give away one million free cannabis plants to families, the minister says

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced the move in a Facebook post on May 8 in which he expressed his intention to cannabis plants to be grown as “home crops”.

The new rule, which goes into effect on June 9, will allow people to grow cannabis plants indoors upon prior notification to the local government, but the plants will need to be medical grade and used solely for medicinal purposes. Furthermore, cannabis cannot be used for commercial purposes without additional licenses.

The move is the latest step in Thailand’s plan to promote cannabis as a cash crop. About a third of its workforce works in agriculture, according to the World Bank.

In a region known for harsh sanctions against illegal drugs, Thailand became the first Southeast Asian country in 2018 to legalize cannabis for research and medical use.

The kingdom has also loosened local cannabis laws. Last year, Thai beverage and cosmetic companies were quick to launch products with hemp and CBD, a compound that doesn’t get users high, after their use was approved for consumer goods.

In a further Facebook post on May 10, Anutin noted that Thai companies registered to do so may be selling cannabis products that contained less than 0.2 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the part of the plant responsible for the high.

“This will enable the people and the government to generate more than 10 billion baht a year in marijuana and hemp revenue,” Anutin wrote.

A worker inspects flowering cannabis plants at a legal marijuana facility in Thailand.

Kitty Chopaka, a Bangkok-based cannabis entrepreneur, told CNN that the law was intended to pave the way for people to use the plant in medicinal teas or soups.

“It will still be considered criminal if you don’t have a legal prescription and you have to be a patient of some form of ailment for it to work. Only then will you be able to grow cannabis at home and use it however you like.”

He added that even though recreational drug use remained illegal, “smoking weed will happen and there’s no way to.” [government] can stop it. “