Thailand plans to host the first World Ganja Festival at the beginning of next year in a bid to promote the kingdom as a developer of the stickiest of icky, while also stimulating the country’s economic growth.
The Association of Researchers of Thailand has signed an agreement with related agencies in order to hold the first festival of its kind between Jan. 29 and Feb. 2 next year. The festival will be held on a 16-hectare (about 100 rais) plot near the Nong Yat Reservoir in the northeastern province of Nakhon Phanom.
“Thailand’s the main host. We’re deciding who we will invite. The association chairperson said there’ll be Chinese, Japanese, and American guests, who once opposed the idea. We’ll invite different countries to exchange academic ideas and opinions so we’ll be able to see how medical cannabis will benefit the global community,” Gen. Charan Kullawanit, an advisor to the festival, told reporters after a press conference. He added that he hoped the event will allow those in the industry to trade knowledge and create new opportunities to foster a better understanding of what many believe to be a “cash crop.”
The festival will be divided into three zones for academic seminars, technological innovation, and business negotiations. The event will also feature a product design competition and live music, the details of which have not yet been disclosed.
Since the legalization of medical mariajuana on Christmas last year, the once uber-anti-drug Thailand has awoken to the medical and economic potential of the controversial herb.
With supplies stocked and packaging ready, the first batch of Thai-produced medical marijuana has already been distributed at state-run hospitals and is even available to those receiving government universal healthcare.
One of those hospitals is the Chaophraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital in Prachin Buri province, which is at the forefront of bringing medical marijuana to the nation’s most desperate patients. But that doesn’t mean just anyone can walk in and buy cannabis products.
Attorney and researcher Wirot Poonsuwan told Coconuts Bangkok recently that supply shortages are one of the hurdles to widespread availability. That means only registered patients with severe conditions such as late-stage cancer, Parkinson’s, or drug-resistant epilepsy are the first in line to receive cannabis treatments.
Hear our interview with Wirot, who answers many questions about the state of the legalization drive.
However, at the end of last month, Thailand planted 12,000 cannabis seedlings at Maejo University in Chiang Mai, becoming the first nation in Southeast Asia to cultivate industrial-grade cannabis. Two more metric tons of weed are expected to be ready by February.
When the herb becomes more readily available, attorney Wirot said he believes those with less critical needs – such as insomnia, depression, or stress – will be able to access medical-grade cannabis treatments, likely sometime next year.
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong every Friday!