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Thailand is 1st in Asia to legalize marijuana, but not for smoking

Bangkok: Thailand legalized the growing of marijuana and its consumption in food and drinks on Thursday, the first Asian country to do so, with the aim of boosting its agriculture and tourism sectors but smoking pot is still against the law.
The public health minister's plan to distribute 1 million marijuana seedlings, beginning Friday, has added to the impression that Thailand is turning into a weed wonderland.
Shoppers queued up at outlets selling cannabis-infused drinks, sweets and other items as advocates of the plant welcomed the reform in a country that has long had a reputation for strict anti-drug laws.
Among those at the front of the queue at one Bangkok shop was Rittipong Dachkul, 24, waiting for sice Wednesday evening to buy his first-ever legal marijuana. "I took a bus here after I got off work. We're now able to find it easily, we don't have to worry about the source," he said.
The country is known for its Thai Stick variety, which is named after the way its potent flowers are dried and tied into sticks and is the origin of many strains now grown overseas.
Thailand, which has a tradition of using cannabis to relieve pain and fatigue, legalized medical marijuana in 2018. The government, banking on the plant as a cash crop, plans to give away a million plants to encourage farmers to take up its cultivation.
The possession and sale of cannabis extracts containing more than 0.2% of its psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is not allowed, which will mean smokers of the drug known as "pot", "weed" and a host of other names, will struggle to get "stoned".
Those who break the law can still face jail and fines.
Cannabis growers have to register on a government app called PlookGanja or grow ganja, another nickname for the spikey-leafed plant. Nearly 1,00,000 people have signed up for the app, said health ministry official Paisan Dankhum. Suphamet said he was concerned about quality control among the many new cultivators.
The health ministry said it has approved 1,181 products, including cosmetics and food, containing cannabis extracts and it expects that the industry will earn as much as 15 billion baht.

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