Thailand predicts its tourism industry will blossom after marijuana legalisation

Marijuana joint in the hand, drugs concept

Thailand became the first country in Asia to legalise marijuana on Thursday, which its government hopes will supercharge the tourism industry.

With a strong tourism-based focus on wellness and resorts across Thailand, the government thinks the legalisation of marijuana will fit well with the country’s tourism practices.

The Thai government predicts this new development will generate as much as 10 billion baht ($400 million) per year, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“A lot of people come here to get their faces fixed with plastic surgery. A lot of people come to do dental work and oral surgery, and for wellness retreats. Within that context, marijuana will integrate beautifully,” said Carl K Linn, author of a newsletter about cannabis in Thailand.

Instead of turning into an Amsterdam-like city, Linn predicts that those who flock to Thailand to enjoy its cannabis will be “Silicon Valley types” as they visit the country for business trips.

CBD, which is a compound found in cannabis plants that doesn’t provide a high, products have already been offered throughout Thailand at certain cafes, spas, and restaurants.

The executive director of Thailand’s International Sustainable Development Studies Institute, Mark Ritchie said the legalisation of cannabis could help the rural economy.

The Guardian reported that Thai authorities are also exploring the idea of a “cannabis sandbox” to allow tourists to visit while recreationally using cannabis in certain areas.

It’s estimated that 27.7 million tourists will visit Thailand just for health and wellness in 2022, putting expenditure on health and wellness tourism at $2.5 billion.

The cannabis research firm Prohibition Partners said the country’s recreational cannabis market has the potential to be worth $424m by 2024.

Linn believes the bill can help Thailand’s economic recovery post-COVID.

“Nothing as small as marijuana use can save [an economy], but I think it could provide a spark,” he said.

Ritchie agreed, adding: “Thailand has done very well with Covid-19 but still the economy has been really impacted.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if this is part of the government saying, ‘Hey, we need to find some way to help boost the economy, and this could be one way to do it’.”

However, Linn warned that there could be some political divisiveness over marijuana’s legalisation in the country.

He said that Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is torn between two extremes; tourism advocates who want to limit regulation and the narcotics board who want laws in place.

“I’m hoping that the FDA will not listen to the two extremes and … provide clear legal space for recreational use without conditions,” Linn says.

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