Thailand is on track to be competitive in the nascent Asian medical marijuana and hemp markets, but the full commercialization of the sector and liberal access for private businesses is not likely to be implemented before 2024, according to a new report.
The country’s medical cannabis market is characterized by high potential, fast regulatory developments and a considerable degree of protectionism, according to the analysis by Vienna-based Cannabis Catalysts.
“Yet, for businesses interested in the Asian cannabis market, there are sound arguments to expand to Thailand,” the report notes.
By 2024, Cannabis Catalysts estimates that the Southeast Asian country’s wholesale medical cannabis market could be worth $46 million to $312 million, depending on a wide range of factors.
Among the report’s estimates for 2024:
- Medical cannabis tourism could be worth $60 million.
- The export potential of medical cannabis is upwards of $618 million.
- The ancillary market for medicinal cannabis could be valued from $808 million to $1 billion.
The report comes with a dose of sobriety, however, noting that the broader industry is currently a vision and only a few dozen patients are participating.
“While the basic framework of the cannabis legislation was published soon after the resolution, there is a lack of regulatory specifications up until now. Many aspects of the legal procedures are just not defined yet,” the report points out.
“This delays the formation of suitable supply infrastructure. Contrary to the currently insufficient supply of cannabis for medical applications, the demand for therapy is quite high.”
An amendment is expected to be voted on soon that would allow members of the public to grow up to six plants for their own medical use.
Participation of private businesses, especially ones owned by foreigners, is limited.
The report says: “Private entities can only work in cooperation and under the license of a state-controlled institution, which includes ministries, state agencies, universities and hospitals. Moreover, only companies that are registered in Thailand and owned by Thai citizens to an extent of at least 2/3 are qualified to cooperate with a license holder.”
Private companies are not among the groups allowed to hold a license, but that does not mean they are excluded from the market.
According to the report, “private companies who want to cultivate cannabis must work in cooperation and under license of one of the authorized groups. The company further must be registered under Thai law, have an office registered in Thailand and at least 2/3 of directors, partners or shareholders must be Thai nationals.”
The Cannabis Catalysts report calls it “a protective measure” by the Thai government to protect state-owned investments from big players overseas.
Of the 442 medical cannabis license Thailand’s health authorities have issued so far:
- 416 are dedicated to distribution.
- 12 have been awarded for cultivation.
- 14 were granted for processing and extraction.
Thirty-eight medical conditions are subject to cannabis therapy. Three of the most severe conditions for which medical cannabis therapy is permitted are chemotherapy-related side effects, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto. He can be reached at [email protected].