Last month, Thailand decriminalized the entire factory. The dropping of cannabis from its list of narcotics has led to an explosion in recreational use.
Officially, commercial products approved by the food and drug regulator may contain cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabis chemical that does not make users high.
But the regulator limits the content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the active ingredient that gets users high – in any cannabis product to just 0.2%.
Thailand has a long history of using cannabis in traditional medicine to relieve pain. Innovators are now coming up with new ideas.
Surawut Samphant, owner of cannabis store Channherb, has created a toothpaste.
“One of its ingredients is cannabis sativa seed oil, which contains CBD,” he said.
Surawat said the toothpaste helped with gum care and one satisfied customer said it worked for him.
“I have receding gums and sometimes they get infected,” said Nikom Rianthong, who has been using the toothpaste for two months.
“It solved my problems,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t be going back to other brands.
Kanomsiam dessert shop owner Kreephet Hanpongpipat has been selling pandan leaf flavored dishes for a long time, but a year ago he incorporated cannabis leaf to attract new customers.
Kreephet said his customers say the cannabis-infused desserts help them sleep well.
Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, the main driver behind the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes, estimates the industry could be worth more than $3 billion within five years.
“I want to see people get rich making these products in a positive way,” he told Reuters.
“My cannabis policy focuses solely on medical and health care purposes. That’s all. We cannot encourage the consumption of cannabis by any other means.
Producers of high-THC marijuana have taken advantage of the pressure to promote medical marijuana, and stalls selling marijuana have sprung up across the country.
Anutin said there are public health laws that can prevent recreational use while a cannabis bill is being debated in parliament.
Kreephet said there needs to be more public awareness of the benefits and dangers of cannabis so that it can be used safely.
Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng and Juarawee Kittisilpa; Editing by Robert Birsel.