Investors seek clarity on cannabis status
Investors in cannabis businesses are calling on the government to clarify its support as well as laws related to cannabis usage, fearing the fledgling industry may be affected by the House of Representatives' withdrawal of the Cannabis and Hemp Bill from its agenda earlier this month.
The Democrat Party decided not to support the bill, sponsored by the Bhumjaithai Party, reasoning that the proposed law would encourage the recreational use of cannabis, especially among minors.
Debates over how to regulate cannabis erupted, following concerns over easier access to cannabis among youths after the plant was removed from the national narcotics list on June 9.
The removal triggered worries among health advocacy groups, while farmers and investors seek new business opportunities.
Now the direction of cannabis usage in the country is unclear, disrupting companies and farmers who started cannabis businesses, said Sittichai Daengprasert, chairman of the Dietary Supplement Industry Club and Herbal Industry Club under the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).
"The ongoing problem has caused foreign investors who want to partner with Thai companies to venture into cannabis businesses to delay their investment plans," he said.
If the problem cannot be solved, Thailand will lose out in its plan to promote cannabis as a new cash crop and develop value-added products, said Mr Sittichai.
Cannabidiol, which is extracted from cannabis, can be used to treat many ailments.
The FTI is worried about farmers who already invested in cultivating cannabis as a crop.
"We talked with some community enterprises comprised of local farmers. They already started cannabis and hemp farms spanning 1,000 rai and plan to supply their harvests to factories," he said. "Now they don't know what will happen next."
Jacky Ong, chairman of Cannabis Investment Summit World (CISW) Holding Group, said the problem in the House is a political conflict.
"This conflict could lead to a loss of confidence among investors," he said.
CISW is preparing to join local investors and farmers in submitting a request for a clear policy on cannabis to Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who is the leader of the Bhumjaithai Party.
Thailand plans to participate in the 3rd CISW Summit World, together with Med-Tech World and Med-Cann World, in Malta during Nov 17-18.