CBD-Asia Pacific-Thailand

CBD in Thailand


Thailand had historically had very strict regulations against illicit drugs, but that changed in 2018 after medical cannabis was legalized. CBD was the next to be removed from narcotics scheduling and is now being cultivated and produced in country, predominantly by the government. As production ramps up to meet demand, and regulations continue to loosen, CBD could be big business for Thailand, who hopes to eventually export their CBD products globally.

Population GDP per Capita Healthcare Spend per Capita Cannabis Use Average Price per 500 mg Tincture 2020 Market Potential

70 million





US $4.2 million

Regulatory Overview

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.

Consumer Perceptions and Cultural Factors

Many Thais have been using marijuana as a traditional medicine long before the legalization was set in. Cannabis has traditionally been used to relieve pain and fatigue.  Since it is only available for specific medical conditions, current CBD consumers are in Thailand are suffering from cancer, epilepsy or other severe conditions and perceive CBD as an effective natural alternative.

In early 2020, two full-time clinics dispensing cannabis oil for medical treatment opened. About 400 patients, many of them with cancer, were given the oil for free at a flagship clinic at the Public Health Ministry in a suburb of Bangkok. The initial four formulations handed out are used for treating conditions such as migraines, insomnia, nausea, numbness and pain. The medicines are touted as being based on traditional remedies. Around 25 similar clinics have been operating part-time since the legislature agreed in 2018 to amend the country's drug laws to allow the use and production of medical cannabis. Plans call for 77 clinics to eventually be opened across the country, with one in every province. 

Competitive Landscape

Currently, Thailand's Government Pharmaceutical Organization is the largest producer of CBD. They have a cannabis greenhouse, that produces oil with THC, CBD and an equal mixture of the two compounds. They could eventually plant cannabis on the compounds of public hospitals to increase supply, allowing it to be tightly supervised.

Some of the other big players are universities and research centers, like Pela Plern Herbal Development Centre and Rangsit University. Pela Plern is responsible for growing and supplying medical marijuana plants to Buriram’s only internationally accredited hospital. Rangsit University has launched a legal marijuana plantation and research institution, which it claims is the country’s first. Another university in Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Mai, Maejo University, has established an industrial-scale cannabis manufacturing facility in a cooperation pact with the state.

Of course other investors are eager to be quick movers in Thailand's new market. Ishaan Shah, from the billionaire Shah family, founded the Ganja Group in Bangkok and plans to supply medical cannabis to the family’s GP Group’s pharmaceutical arm, Megalife Sciences Pcl.

Early-stage venture capital fund manager, Expara, is aiming to raise $30 million by December 2020 to invest in cannabis-related technology. The company’s moves are despite the fact that licenses are not yet available for businesses under Thailand’s rather restrictive cannabis program. It may be possible for them to partner with a local entity, similar to Rafarma Pharmaceuticals', a Slovenian company, partnership with Thai company MTP Material Co to develop cannabis companies.

Colorado, U.S.-based CBD maker C-Beyond Health Inc. established a Thai-based company earlier in 2019 in anticipation of laws changing, and have already established infrastructure on 400 acres for hemp cultivation in the Chang Mi region of the country.

Growth Drivers

  • The country is investing in technology to extract, distill and market CBD oil

  • Outside investment and the eventual entry of global CBD brands  

  • Introduction of branding and product innovation

  • Increased access and availability for patients/consumer


  • Many elderly people have waited in line to receive 5mg to 10 mg vials of CBD oil. Patients suffering from muscle aches to bearing serious ailments may be the largely benefitted population from CBD oil.

  • Critics say that legislation might restrict small farmers from entering into the cannabis space and give the benefits to big agro-industrial firms.  

  • Thailand has a few certified hemp strains, but they are the result of a research project that was focused on fiber, so all of the strains are low in CBD compared to many strains overseas. Therefore, a breeding project will be required to boost the CBD content of locally adapted hemp strains, or to test overseas-sourced hemp strains for local suitability, which will take time.


  • Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul hopes that the remedies might be added into the National List of Essential Medicine, which allows them to be covered by Thailand's 30-baht ($1) universal health care scheme. Officials say the policy of free cannabis is likely to be changed.

  • Community groups in Buriram have been asked to grow and cultivate medical-grade marijuana to be delivered to the state-owned Khu Muang Hospital as part of the announced “Buriram Model”. The model is meant to serve as a prototype for co-operatives operated by farmers and medical institutions.  

  • The Ministry of Public Health is looking to speed up legal changes to liberalize the medical marijuana industry, including a move to allow household cultivation of as many as six cannabis plants. It is working with the Justice Ministry to decriminalize the plant.

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