Almost half of Thais have used cannabis-based products in the past two years, while about 62% say they are interested in consuming such products in the next 12 months, market research and data analytics firm YouGov found.
Their report, based on a survey carried out online on Feb 28 among 2,044 participants aged 18 years and over, found 73% of Thais are aware of the commercial availability of cannabis-based products, which range from beverages, food and cosmetics.
When the survey's responses were categorised by the age of respondents, they showed 55% of millennials (born in 1981-1996) and 47% of Gen Zs (born 1997-2009) have used a cannabis-based product recently, compared to 41% of Gen X consumers (born 1965-1980) and 28% baby-boomers (born 1946-1964).
The report found about one-quarter of Thai men (26%) and one-sixth of Thai women (15%) are interested in consuming a marijuana product in the next year.
Almost two-thirds of Gen X (65%) and millennials (64%) expressed interest, compared to three-fifths of baby boomers (61%). Surprisingly, the survey indicated Gen Z respondents were the least likely to try cannabis-based products, with just 55% expressing interest. About 31% said they were not interested in the products.
The top five reasons for interest in cannabis products among consumers are relaxation and anxiety reduction (50%), sleep disturbance (46%), mood moderation (46%), relieving tiredness (31%) and increasing appetite (30%).
Meanwhile, respondents who did not show any interest in cannabis-based products cited fear of addiction (36%), possible loss of control over actions (21%), memory and/or learning impairment (18%), unpleasant smell and taste (15%) and heart palpitation (15%) as the top five reasons for avoiding cannabis.
Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia to legalise the use of cannabis for medical and research purposes in 2018. In February, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul signed a ministerial announcement which delisted cannabis and hemp as narcotic substances.
The delisting affects cannabis and hemp extracts containing less than 0.2% by weight of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical responsible for most of cannabis' psychological effects. The ministerial announcement will come into force 120 days after the announcement is published in the Royal Gazette, expected around June this year.