In September 2019, Thailand removed CBD extracts from cannabis/hemp containing less than 0.2% THC from the Category 5 narcotics scheduling. Category 5 also includes psychedelic mushrooms, cannabis, and kratom and can carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to 1.5 million baht (~$50,000 USD).
Hemp is defined by the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) as a Cannabis sativa L plant which contains no more than 0.5% of THC by weight in its flowers and stems, and no more than 0.3% of THC by weight in its seeds. According to the regulation, only hemp extracts that contain a ratio of cannabidiol (CBD) to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) not exceeding 0.01% to 0.2% by weight can be used in drugs and herbal products. The regulation also sanctions the use of dried hemp bark, stems, fibres, and seeds in traditional medicine, food and cosmetics preparations.
In the first five years beginning on August 27, 2019, only local licensed producers will be allowed to use parts of the plant in their products. Thailand's FDA is amending its regulations to allow companies to grow hemp as a cash crop, and also working towards issuing new rules on foods and cosmetics that contain CBD. Currently, only hospitals and research facilities are allowed to apply for licenses to cultivate and extract CBD, but the government is reviewing regulations to enable Thai businesses to apply for permits. The Thai government invested 100 million baht ($3.3 million USD) in the first indoor growing facility, which opened last year, and bought 12,000 cannabis plant seedlings.
The new rules also do not allow for marijuana-derived CBD to be imported until 2024, in order to give local businesses time to establish operations and block existing large, global producers from entering the market. To import or use hemp under the new rules, companies have to be registered in Thailand, but are not required to be fully owned by Thais. They need to have an office in Thailand and have two-thirds of their shareholding or directors be Thai.
However, the law does seem to allow for import of hemp derived CBD. Companies will be free to import CBD oil with 99% purity made from hemp with THC content not to exceed 0.01% by weight once they receive a cannabis import license from the FDA.
According to Thai law, it is impossible to patent plant extracts. In January 2019, Thailand had given patent-pending status to several applications for specific cannabis extracts made by GW Pharmaceuticals and partner Otsuka Pharmaceutical. The fact that the patent applications were approved and moved to the pending stage and not canceled outright has left many outraged in Thailand.
Consumers will be allowed access to CBD as long as it is prescribed by a doctor specially trained in cannabis by the Department of Medical Services; there are about 1,200 such doctors for the entire country as of early 2020.