Thailand legalized the growing of marijuana and its consumption in food and drinks on Thursday, the first Asian country to do so, with the aim of boosting its agriculture and tourism sectors, but smoking pot is still against the law.
Shoppers queued up at outlets selling cannabis-infused drinks, sweets and other items as advocates of the plant welcomed the reform in a country that has long had a reputation for strict anti-drug laws.
“After COVID, the economy going down the drain, we really do need this,” said Chokwan Kitty Chopaka, who owns a store selling cannabis gum sweets.
Thailand, which has a tradition of using cannabis to relieve pain and fatigue, legalized medicinal marijuana in 2018.
The government, banking on the plant as a cash crop, plans to give away a million plants to encourage farmers to take up its cultivation.
But authorities aim to head off an explosion of recreational use by limiting the strength of the cannabis products that are legal.
The possession and sale of cannabis extracts containing more than 0.2% of its psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol, is not allowed, which will rule out smokers of the drug known as “pot”, “weed” and a host of other names, from getting “high”.
Those who break the law can still face jail and fines.
Cannabis growers have to register on a government app called PlookGanja, or grow ganja, another nickname for the spikey-leafed plant. Nearly 100,000 people have signed up to the app, said health ministry official Paisan Dankhum.
(Additional reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Robert Birsel)
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