CBD business in Thailand faces potential eradication due to changes under new government.

Changes under the new Thai government pose a threat to the CBD industry.

Thai hemp stakeholders seek clarity on marijuana rescheduling

Thai hemp stakeholders are urging the new Thai government for clarification on the potential rescheduling of marijuana and the restriction of hemp to fiber and seed products, which would effectively eliminate the CBD business.

The Thai Industrial Hemp Trade Association (TIHTA) states that cannabis companies need to know whether Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s new government will reverse the progress made in cannabis policy in Thailand over the past few years. TIHTA estimates that its members have invested around $200-300 million baht (~US$5.5-8.3 million) in their hemp operations, primarily focusing on CBD. The total investment in cannabis, including marijuana, is estimated to be in the tens of billions of baht.

Support for ‘non-psychoactive’ hemp

During the elections in August, Thavisin’s Pheu Thai Party, a center-left party that has historically supported farmers, stated their intention to strictly regulate the production and sale of CBD. They plan to limit CBD to medical products and research initiatives, with industrial hemp being used solely for non-psychoactive products like food, textiles, and building materials.

The new government has appointed a team to draft a new law for all cannabis and has ordered an expedited process. This position on CBD differs from the previous government’s policy, which allowed CBD to be used in various products, including food, beverages, and cosmetics. Several companies had already announced plans to develop the CBD business in Thailand once the initial policies were implemented and hemp and marijuana were removed from the country’s list of dangerous drugs in 2022.

Clarity needed for stakeholders

The changes made way for the processing of cannabis flowers, allowing manufacturers to produce cosmetics, as well as products from plant stalks, using hemp seed oil and extract. Hempseed oil derivatives were also approved for use in food and drinks. Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew emphasized the importance of the new government’s intentions, stating that cannabis companies need clarity to adjust their business plans. He added, “For businesses, what matters most is that a clear and final decision is made.”

Thailand’s cannabis law imposes strict restrictions on investment, sales, and imports. Cannabis permits are only granted to government entities and their partners, and the importation of hemp products will not be allowed until next year, based on rules announced at the end of 2020.

Recent developments

Thailand began the process of decriminalizing cannabis in 2019, allowing its cultivation and use for medical purposes. The changes in the hemp sector, which came into effect in 2020 and 2021, permit the production and sale of cosmetics and food using hemp seed oil or hemp seed extract, as long as the finished products contain no more than 0.2% THC by weight.

Thailand was the first country in Southeast Asia to decriminalize all forms of cannabis and one of the few nations that set the THC level for hemp plants in the field at 1.0% by dry weight. Most countries use 0.3% THC as the threshold distinguishing high-THC marijuana plants from industrial hemp.

The government plans to implement a transitional policy that does not criminalize home marijuana cultivation, which is currently allowed, until any new law is fully enacted.

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