As soon as hemp could be grown legally in Thailand last month, one company was ready to jump in feet first with a variety of cannabis said to have some of the highest levels of cannabidiol, or CBD.
Looking to capitalize on the latest fruits of decriminalization, Golden Triangle Group has begun successfully cultivating a variety called Raksa that, with average levels of 16% CBD, is practically dripping with the extract being promoted as a wellness panacea.
On a recent afternoon, one of its founders sat in his Bangkok office sipping from a warm cup of CBD tea made of cannabis leaves grown at his farm in Chiang Rai province. He explained why he made the “right decision” by quitting the petroleum industry.
“I felt that oil’s day is ending, and I believe that a green rush is on the horizon,” Kris Thirakaosal said.
With an initial THB60 million in capital, the firm got an early start in 2019, the 43-year-old former investment banker said.
To achieve ideal breeding and cultivating conditions to produce quality plants, the group partnered with the Chiang Rai Rajabhat University in northern Thailand to make use of its 30-rai (4.8 hectare) outdoor cultivation area and professional, indoor “genetics lab.”
Its laboratory there is headed by Jaime Carrion, who brags of over 30 years of experience in the industry. The master weed grower from Madrid was behind Cannatonic, a cannabidiol-heavy strain popularly known as the “CBD Queen,” which was introduced to the world in 2008 with a whopping 17% of CBD.
“We found Cannatonic, and it led us to Jaime,” Kris said. “He said he had planted strains all over the world. Only Asia was the last frontier for him.”
Raksa (“Treat”) is a similar strain Carrion has developed for the group. Golden Triangle Group has 11 other strains with high CBD and low THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the stuff that gets you high) using varied extraction methods such as hang drying, freeze drying and carbon dioxide extraction, and even a kind of cannabis cloning called tissue culture.
Thailand recently made it legal to sell parts of the cannabis plant that contain CBD but not THC. Commercial products must have THC levels of no more than 0.3%.
Golden Triangle doesn’t have any cannabis products on the market yet but have their sights set on the medical, cosmetic, food supplement and beverage sectors. Kris said they are talking to potential business partners – like juice giant Tipco Foods, he teases – to produce wellness drinks with CBD.
“We’re looking for partners to enable our dream,” Kris said. “I believe that this market is large enough for everyone. It’s not a monopoly. It’s for growing together, and it will grow sustainably.”