Bangkok — Thai households can now grow six pots of cannabis each to supplement their income, the nation’s health minister said, as the first country in the region to legalise medical marijuana further eased rules to promote the crop’s commercial use.

Families may form communities to grow marijuana and supply the crop to public hospitals and state facilities, or use them to make food and cosmetic products as a fresh revenue source, Thailand’s deputy premier and health minister Anutin Charnvirakul said in a statement Friday.

“Marijuana and hemp are both economic crops and it provides a new option for locals to generate revenue,” Anutin said at a marijuana educational expo at Buriram, 400km northeast of Bangkok. “We are trying to ease restrictions to allow the public easier access to the plant, but please co-operate and use it correctly.”

While Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia to legalise medical marijuana in 2018, its use for recreational purposes is still banned. Any flowers and seeds yielded from the crop grown at homes must be sent to state medical facilities as they remain in the country’s criminal code due to their high levels of psychoactive compounds, the minister said.

The rest of the marijuana, including leaves, branches and fibre, as well as hemp plants, have been decriminalised and allowed to be used in food and cosmetic products since December 2020. Anutin became a minister in 2019 after an election in which the centrepiece of his political party’s campaign was marijuana legalisation.

Though some restrictions remain, allowing households to grow marijuana is another step in unshackling the industry and is similar to Sri Lanka, which allows limited growth of the plant by state-licensed growers and only for medical purposes.

The Philippines is considering allowing use of the plant for epilepsy treatment, but marijuana in most other nations in Southeast Asia remains forbidden and, in some, punishable with death sentences.



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