Young people, sick people, scientists, but also monks and politicians: several thousand Thais attended the first celebration of cannabis organized in the kingdom after the legalization of marijuana for medical use, a business that looks to be very juicy.
Chaivisit Visitvekin, a 67-year-old monk, takes a vial of cannabis oil out of his robe and drops a drop on his tongue. Not far from there a family is shot in front of buxom marijuana plants. Scenes unimaginable a few months ago in the very conservative realm.
The "Pan Buriram" weed festival in northeastern Thailand, showcases medical marijuana following last year's country-wide legalisation for medicinal usehttps://t.co/DF7v0XwFWb pic.twitter.com/KQcLxs4Cvt
— AFP news agency (@AFP) April 20, 2019
Legal since December 2018
But in December, Thailand took the lead, becoming the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize the cultivation of cannabis for medical use, a market so far dominated by Canada, Australia, Israel and many other countries. states of the United States. Implementation of the law, however, has been delayed.
— Joe Freeman (@joefree215) April 20, 2019
Meanwhile, a marijuana festival is being held this weekend until Sunday in rural Buriram Province, a few hundred kilometers northeast of Bangkok. Many multicolored flags, white teepees and capitals were erected for the occasion.
Booths offer rolling sheets or pipes as the songs of Reggae king Bob Marley resound. Others exhibit greenhouse materials and lighting necessary for culture, while several speakers discuss different varieties of cannabis or control its quality.
Chaivisit Visitvekin is queuing to obtain from the Ministry of Health the precious sesame that will allow him to use marijuana to relieve his shoulder pain.
“I use oil and have never had any side effects,” he says. Surrerat Ruangnoy uses cannabis to relieve migraines. “At the festival, I saw old people. I took pictures and I will show them to my parents so that they understand better my situation, says the 26-year-old.
Billions of profits?
Legalization for medical use should also allow farmers to diversify into a country where agriculture is focused on rice and rubber to produce rubber.
The sale of marijuana in the form of grass or oil could generate profits of some 2.7 billion euros per year, according to estimates provided in December to AFP by Prapat Panyachartrak, President of the National Farmers Council . A potential financial windfall that surfaced a small political party in the legislative elections in March, the first since the coup in 2014 that brought to power a military junta.
Bhumjaithai (Thai Pride) campaigned for the legalization of cannabis but also to allow each household to grow a few plants at home.
A winning bet since it became after the election a significant political force. He finds himself in the position of referee, courted by the two main factions (pro-junta and pro-democracy) to hope to win a majority in the House of Representatives. Official results will be known by May 9th.
The aim of the festival is “to help Thais understand and benefit from cannabis,” says Newin Chidchob, the festival’s president and one of the founding members of Bhumjaithai.
Marijuana has long been considered a traditional herb in Thailand, before being classified as narcotic in the 1970s. Today, finally, “the stigma of cannabis is changing” in the kingdom, welcomes Ryan Doran , an American expert who attends the festival to advise farmers on the subject.