BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand on Friday launched a campaign to donate 1 million free cannabis plants, a day after decriminalizing its growth for commercial purposes, but discouraged people from taking drugs and warned that they could break the law.
Thailand legalized medical marijuana in 2018 for medical use, but is now committed to developing it as a commercial crop and building a lucrative local industry.
“Don’t use it and sit at home smiling and don’t do any work. These are not our policies,” Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said at the launch in the northeastern province of Buriram. , where the first 1,000 plants were being distributed.
“We have removed the stigma, it is being washed as if a tattoo were being removed. Don’t let it come back,” he said, adding that cannabis should be used to improve health.
On Thursday, cannabis was removed from the country’s narcotics list, allowing people to grow the plant if it is registered in a government application.
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However, authorities are discouraging its recreational use, while smoking in public could result in imprisonment and fines.
The psychoactive compound of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, is limited to 0.2% in cannabis extracts and products that can be sold in Thailand, which include oils and sweets.
Growing cannabis at home requires you to sign up for the government smartphone app, PlookGanja, or “grow ganja.”
Anutin said more than 300,000 people had signed up for the app, which had millions of downloads from people who wanted to learn more about cannabis.
According to the Thai Department of Corrections, 3,000 people have been released from prison after being arrested for cannabis-related crimes since the law was changed this week.
(Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Martin Petty)
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