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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Thai companies benefit from cannabis, from milk tea to toothpaste

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BANGKOK: Thai companies are taking advantage of cannabis-infused products such as toothpaste, tea, soap and snacks after the government legalized the plant and its extract this year, sparking a flurry of interest in the drug.

“It gives me a deep, restful sleep,” said Pakbom Charoenbona, 32, who buys a cannabis-infused drink from the regular milk tea vendor.

Thailand became the first Southeast Asian country to legalize marijuana in 2018 for medical use and research.

Last month, Thailand decriminalized the entire plant. Dropping cannabis from the drug list has led to an explosion in recreational use.

Officially, commercial products approved by the Food and Drug Administration can contain cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical in cannabis that does not make users diffuse.

But the regulator limits the content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the active ingredient that increases users – in any cannabis product to just 0.2 percent.

Thailand has a long history of using cannabis in traditional medicine to relieve aches and pains. Innovators are now coming up with new ideas.

Surawut Samphant, owner of Channherb cannabis store, made toothpaste.

“One of its ingredients is cannabis seed oil, which contains cannabidiol,” he said.

Sarawat said the toothpaste helped with gum care and one satisfied customer said it worked for him.

“My gums have receded and sometimes I get infected,” said Nikum Rayanthong, who has been using toothpaste for two months.

“It solved my problems,” he said, adding that he would not be returning to other brands.

Kreephet Hanpongpipat, owner of candy store Kanomsiam, has long been selling dishes flavored with pandan leaf, but a year ago he incorporated hemp leaves to attract new customers.

Crevet said his customers say the cannabis-infused desserts help them get a good night’s sleep.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, a major driver of the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes, estimates that the industry could be worth more than $3 billion within five years.

“I want to see people get richer by doing these products in a positive way,” he told Reuters.

“My policy on cannabis focuses only on medical and healthcare purposes. That’s it. We cannot encourage the use of cannabis in other ways.”

THC-rich marijuana producers took advantage of the push to promote medical marijuana and pot stalls have spread across the country.

Anutin said there are public health laws that could prevent recreational use while the cannabis bill is being debated in Parliament.

Crivet said more public education is needed about the benefits and risks of cannabis so that it can be used safely.

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