The government of Thailand is set to remove cannabis and hemp from the country’s narcotics list, Eco Business reported, making it the first Southeast Asian country to do so.

From the beginning of July, the country would no longer class cannabis as a narcotic, the report said.

Although cannabis, a plant species to which both marihuana and hemp belong, has been an integral part of Thai cultural life for centuries, it has been illegal in the country for almost a century, according to the 19 May report.

However, in 2018, Thailand decriminalised the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Once the latest legislation has been passed, the country’s public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul said he would distribute IM cannabis plants for household cultivation although large-scale businesses would need a permit.

In Thailand, large-scale production of hemp and cannabis is in its infancy, according to cannabis advocate Kitty Chopaka.

“Hemp is a very sustainable crop that could replace carbon-producing products. It can be harvested every three months and could replace wood in paper production. But for that, it needs to become a mass commodity,” she says.

Thai cannabis entrepreneur Pock 420, who declined to reveal his real name, said the legislative changes made no sense to ordinary people.

“Cannabis is a normal plant. It should be totally legal. But they legalise only leaves and stems. The flower, the buds remain illegal. It’s like selling banana skin without the banana. The social and legal consequences of growing and consumption remain significant,” he said.

Although it was illegal, Pock 420 said he gave cannabis oil, which few people knew how to grow, to sick people.

Chopaka agrees: “Cannabis sold in Thailand must contain less than 0.2 per cent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the plant’s psychotropic ingredient), which is concentrated in the flower. If you grow cannabis and then consume the flower, you’re likely to break the law. The recreational consumption of cannabis, like prostitution, which is illegal, will be one more thing that will be up to the discretion of police.”