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Thailand Government Is Set To Give Out One Million Free Cannabis Plants

Thailand will see most legal restrictions on production and possession of the drug lifted next month.

Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, signed a measure in February officially dropping cannabis, from a list of controlled drugs.  

The changes will allow people to grow cannabis at home, and the Thai government will distribute one million free plants to households from next month.  

The new rule, which comes into force on June 9, will allow people to grow cannabis plants at home after notifying their local government, but the plants will have to be of medical grade and used exclusively for medicinal purposes. 

Cannabis was legalized in 2018, but has been closely regulated, with several restrictions gradually easing since. The Thai government is hoping a new cannabis industry will blossom, generating hundreds of millions of dollars directly each year, also attracting tourists.  

The use of cannabis for commercial purposes will require a license under the new rules.  

With around a third of its labour force working in agriculture, it is expected to see a solid income for the country. 

Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia in 2018 to legalise cannabis for medical research and use, despite harsh penalties towards illegal drugs around the region. 

"This will enable people and the government to generate more than 10 billion baht per year in revenue from marijuana and hemp," Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul wrote. 

Kitty Chopaka, a Bangkok-based cannabis entrepreneur, 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 criminal if you don't have a legal prescription and you have to be a patient of some form of ailment for this to work," she said. 

"Only then will you be able to grow cannabis at home and use it however you like." 

She added that, even though recreational use of the drug remained illegal, "smoking weed will happen, and there's no way the [government] can stop that".