Thailand’s huge promotion drive for cannabis as used for medical purposes will be amply in force at the Cannabis and Hemp Expo in the northeastern town of Buriram, on March 5-7.
The three-day expo at the famous Buriram International Racing Circuit is supported by the public health ministry. On the opening day, it will be attended by the Thai health minister and the deputy prime minister.
Buriram is hosting this expo for the second time, after the first event in April 2019 attracted more than 1,50,000 visitors. It was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.
This is one of the first expos to be held in the country this year. A major objective is to promote cannabis and hemp as a major industry for Thailand, bringing huge medical and economic benefits to both Thai producers and consumers.
This year, the expo covers the use of ganja (cannabis) and ganchong (hemp) in various industries, including textiles, food and cosmetics.
There will be seminars, exhibitions and workshops to explain the various benefits of the drug, including how food and other products can be made with cannabis leaves or oil.
There will be consultation sessions with the food and administration department for those who want to grow cannabis and hemp plants legally. Thailand’s department of traditional and alternative medicine will also be on hand to receive patients for consultations.
Thailand became the first country in southeast Asia to legalise cannabis in 2018. Certain parts of the cannabis plant were removed from Thailand’s narcotics list, leading to a medical cannabis business worth an estimated Bt8 billion by 2025. And so, large cannabis plantations came up in more than eight provinces of the country.
Two full-time cannabis clinics were started in 2019, and as many as 25 part-time clinics sprung up subsequently, with plenty more planned. Many of the clinics handed over free cannabis oil to numerous patients.
Cannabis oil is said to benefit patients with many diseases ranging from cancer to lupus and hypertension, and more than 50,000 patients have registered for the drug. But the ministry of health has made it clear that the distribution of medical marijuana would only go through licensed cannabis clinics and hospitals.
The government also plans for cannabis patients to fix medical appointments through a smartphone app.
But to prevent the abuse of the drug, the government has specified that medical marijuana would be available only to those with a prescription from a medical practitioner. Those who break the law would be penalised with jail terms or stiff fines.
Now the ministry of tourism is considering Cannabis Medical Tours, a first for any Asian country. The tours would aim to educate people about the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
Thailand’s tourism department is working with the Thai traditional and alternative medicine department to promote this as one more initiative towards expanding medical tourism.