BANGKOK: Developing a medical cannabis industry is among top policy priorities for Thailand's new government, according to a document released before the formal announcement.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the former military government leader who heads a civilian government following March elections, is due to set out the policies for debate in the national assembly on Thursday (Jul 25) . The policy document was released on Sunday.
Developing the medical cannabis industry was a key demand of the Bhumjaithai party, one of the biggest parties in Prayut's 19-party coalition.
"The study and technological development of marijuana, hemp, and other medicinal herbs should be sped up for the medical industry to create economic opportunity and income for the people," the policy document said.
Thailand, which had a tradition of using cannabis to relieve pain and fatigue, legalised marijuana for medical use and research last year.
New Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, now a deputy prime minister and health minister, said his goal was to enable all Thais to grow marijuana to make money.
Anutin told local media it was important to remove hemp with a high level of cannabidiol (CBD) from the list of banned drugs for cultivation and then to free up hospitals to prescribe drugs containing the chemical compound.
Among other urgent government priorities were addressing drought, labour and economic problems.
Also on the list was a study to amend a new constitution that critics say preserves the hold of the military indefinitely. This study had been a demand of another coalition partner, the Democrat Party.
However, any constitutional changes would require the support of the Senate - which is entirely made up of appointees of the previous military government.