(CNN) — The Thai government will distribute one million free cannabis plants to households across the country in June to commemorate a new law that allows people to grow the plant at home, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said.
The official announced the move in a Facebook post on May 8, in which he expressed his intention that cannabis plants be used as “home crops.”
The new law, which will take effect on June 9, will allow people to grow cannabis plants in their homes after notifying their local government. But the plants will have to be medical grade and used exclusively for medicinal purposes. Furthermore, cannabis may not be used for commercial purposes without additional licences.
This move is the latest step in Thailand’s plan to promote cannabis as a cash crop. About a third of its workforce works in agriculture, according to the World Bank.
In a region known for its strong sanctions against illegal drugs, Thailand in 2018 became the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize cannabis for research and medical use.
The kingdom also relaxed local laws around cannabis. Last year, Thai beverage and cosmetics companies rushed to launch products containing hemp and CBD, a compound that does not produce the high in users, after it was approved for use in consumer goods.
In another Facebook post on May 10, Anutin noted that registered Thai companies could sell cannabis products that contain less than 0.2 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the part of the plant responsible for people getting high. psychoactive.
“This will enable the people and government to generate more than 10 billion baht a year in revenue from marijuana and hemp,” Anutin wrote.
Kitty Chopaka, a Bangkok-based cannabis businesswoman, told CNN the law was meant to pave the way for people to use the plant in medicinal teas or soups.
“It will still be considered a crime if you don’t have a legal prescription and you have to be a patient of some kind of ailment for this to work. Only then will you be able to grow cannabis at home and consume it however you want,” he explained.
He added that while recreational use of the drug remains illegal, people “smoking cannabis is going to happen, and there’s no way [el gobierno] I can stop it.”