Govt hemp farms start operations on January 1

national December 14, 2017 01:00


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STARTING ON January 1, government agencies will be allowed to grow hemp in six provinces as a part of ongoing efforts to treat the plant as an economic crop.

Agencies will have to declare how they will use the hemp and present production as well as distribution plans to seek permission. Also, they will have to report their harvest schedules and transport of crops to provincial governors. 

Known as Cannabis sativa, hemp contains Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is a psychoactive substance. The varieties allowed for cultivation must have THC levels of no more than 1 per cent of weight when dried. 

The government has been planning to legalise the production of hemp for years. In late 2016, the Cabinet approved a plan to let government agencies seek permission to grow, sell and possess hemp.

A ministerial regulation to enforce the plan was then promulgated in the Royal Gazette on January 6 this year. The plan will become effective at the start of 2018. 

At present, the Public Health Ministry has already approved hemp farms in Chiang Mai’s Mae Wang, Mae Rim, Samoeng and Mae Chaem districts; Chiang Rai’s Thoeng, Wiang Pa Pao and Mae Sai districts; Nan’s Na Mun, Santisuk and Song Kwai districts; Tak’s Phop Phra district; Phetchabun’s Muang, Lom Kao and Khao Kho districts; and Mae Hong Son’s Muang district. 

A committee on hemp farming also convened a meeting yesterday to prepare for cultivation. The committee includes representatives from various agencies such as the National Police Office, the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) and the Public Health Ministry. 

ONCB secretary-general Sirinya Sittichai yesterday said hemp could be used for manufacturing various products such as clothes and bags. 

“At this point, we will first focus on the use of hemp fibre,” Sirinya said. “In the future, we will consider using its other benefits.” 

He added that hemp could, for example, be useful for the production of food, medicine and cosmetics. 

Sirinya said if the controlled farms delivered intended benefits over the next three years, authorities would consider allowing people to grow hemp privately.

At present, hemp is considered an illicit drug under Thai law. Any private person found producing, importing, exporting, selling or having the plant with intent to sell faces drug possession charges.