Thailand's Boom in Canna Business

Stephen Andrews
04 Aug 2022

Thai businesses are milking cash with novel cannabis-infused products like toothpaste, soaps, bubble tea, and snacks. The boom of canna product sales in Thailand follows the government legalizing the plant earlier this year.

Thailand became the first Southeast Asian country to legalize weed for medical use and research back in 2018. Last month, the government went a step further with legislation as it removed cannabis from the list of narcotics, effectively decriminalizing the plant. The legal boost led to a growing interest in cannabis, paving the way for businesses to step in.

Officially speaking, commercial goods approved by the regulator of food and drugs may include CBD as this is not psychoactive. Any product's amount of psychoactive THC is limited to just 0.2%. 

Despite the 0.2 THC limit, innovators have wasted no time developing new ideas, which shouldn't surprise since Thailand has a long history of using cannabis in traditional medicine. 

Local entrepreneur Surawut Samphant, an owner of a brand called "Channherb Cannabis Shop," has even invented cannabis toothpaste. 

The main ingredient in Samphant's toothpaste is cannabis sativa seed oil, which is rich in CBD. The toothpaste is billed to help with gum care and it's already popular among customers. 

Samphant explains in an interview that the canna toothpaste also has other herbal extract ingredients. "With all the herbs combined with the cannabis extract, the product has peaked even more interest," he said. 

Many other entrepreneurs have embedded cannabis into their business, notably in the food and hospitality sectors. 

Official Thai policy on cannabis has actually encouraged reinventing traditional Thai dishes such as green curry soup or sweet spicy chicken to be laced with hemp.

"I want to see people getting rich out of doing these products in a positive way," said Thai Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, the main driving force behind the legalization movement. 

"My policy on cannabis is only focusing on medical purposes and health care. That's all. We can't encourage the use of cannabis in other ways," the minister said.

Nevertheless, cannabis entrepreneurs have seized the opportunity to promote "medical cannabis," with stalls selling marijuana for "therapeutic purposes" popping up all over the country. 

All of it may only be a moment in time, however. Police can enforce public health laws to prevent recreational use, according to Health Minister Anutin. Parliament is currently debating a cannabis bill addressing the situation and exploitation of the new regulations. 

Still, as innovative cannabis-infused products are popping up in Thailand every week, month or so, it must be an exciting time to be there and to be part of the street scene!

Stephen Andrews