Guide to getting medical cannabis licenses in ThailandLegacy

Venturing into the medical cannabis sector in Thailand? You must be up to speed with how licenses are issued. With the country’s government playing a significant role, navigating the licensing process can seem daunting at first. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

From January 29, 2021, Thailand began accepting applications for various cannabis-related activities, including production and distribution for medical purposes. Understanding the specifics of these regulations is key to successfully entering this emerging market. Let’s dive into the nuances of obtaining a medical cannabis license in Thailand, ensuring you’re well-prepared for what lies ahead.

Medical cannabis in Thailand

Thailand’s approach to medical cannabis is a testament to its progressive stance on alternative treatments. Since the legalization specific to medical use, the government has meticulously crafted frameworks and guidelines ensuring the substance is used responsibly and effectively for health purposes. As of 2021, Thailand has embraced medical cannabis with open arms, positioning itself as a pioneering country in Asia in this sector.

When you’re looking into the possibilities of obtaining medical cannabis, it’s crucial to understand the significant strides Thailand has made. There are 339 medical cannabis clinics and 449 Thai traditional medicine clinics across the country, all regulated by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). These facilities offer treatments for a variety of conditions, blending modern and traditional methods.

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Licensing and regulatory framework

In July 2019, the MoPH published comprehensive recommendations on cannabis treatment, marking a pivotal moment in the country’s medical landscape. The guidelines detail the use of cannabis and cannabinoids in both modern and traditional medicine, highlighting 16 approved regimens for Thai traditional medicine and the introduction of folk doctor cannabis oil.

For professionals looking to prescribe or distribute medical cannabis, undergoing a short training course is mandatory. Post-training, they are granted a license, expanding the pool of experts qualified to provide cannabis-based treatments. Furthermore, the country’s firm stance on local involvement in the cannabis industry means that only Thai nationals and companies are permitted to engage in the cultivation, production, and sale of medical cannabis. This regulation underlines Thailand’s commitment to fostering a domestically-driven sector.

If you’re a foreign tourist requiring medical cannabis during your stay, preparation is key. You’ll need a medical certificate before your trip and must declare the quantity of medical cannabis upon arrival. For residents needing access to medical cannabis, the process involves presenting a medical certificate from a licensed practitioner, alongside an ID card or passport, and a detailed application form.

This robust regulatory environment ensures the responsible use of medical cannabis, underpinning Thailand’s position as a leader in the field while safeguarding public health and national interests.

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Who can apply for a license?

When delving into the cannabis industry in Thailand, understanding who’s eligible to apply for various licenses is crucial. The Thai government has carefully laid out the prerequisites for different types of licenses, each tailored to specific activities within the cannabis sector.

For cultivation licenses, the regulation is clear. These licenses are issued per site, meaning if you’re planning on cultivating cannabis across multiple locations, you’ll need to secure a license for each site. This is imperative for those looking to embrace large-scale cultivation, ensuring compliance across all operations.

When it comes to distribution licenses, both wholesale and retail businesses must obtain this to legally sell cannabis flowers and leaves. It’s important to note that other parts of the plant, like seeds or stems, have distinct licensing requirements, falling under the controlled seed distribution license issued by the Plant Quarantine Department.

The processing realm introduces another layer. If you’re aiming to leverage cannabis in the creation of other products, a processing license from the FDA is mandatory. For instance, crafting cannabis beverages necessitates a beverage production license, underscoring the need for specificity in your licensing application.

For businesses interested in the importation of seeds, the avenue is open to both Thai and foreign-owned entities. However, acquiring the relevant license from the Thai Plant Quarantine Department is a prerequisite. This opens up a valuable pathway for diversity in cultivation, essential for both medical and research applications.

The extraction process is strictly regulated and permitted solely for medical and academic purposes. To qualify, organizations must be medical service entities or academic institutions, with a significant portion of Thai nationals in both shareholder and management positions. This requirement underscores Thailand’s commitment to keeping the benefits of the cannabis industry within the country, contributing to local development.

Understanding these criteria is your first step toward navigating the complex landscape of Thailand’s medical cannabis industry. Whether you’re a local entrepreneur or an international entity aiming to contribute to this burgeoning sector, familiarising yourself with these requirements ensures a smoother licensing process.

How to get your license in Thailand

Navigating the world of medical cannabis in Thailand can be complex, especially for those unfamiliar with the local regulations. If you’re looking to get involved in this burgeoning industry, understanding the licensing process is crucial. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting your cannabis license in Thailand.

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Cannabis in Thailand – Obtain cannabis for medical purposes as a foreign national

If you’re a foreign national looking to obtain cannabis for medical purposes in Thailand, there are specific steps you need to follow. First, ensure you have a medical certificate from a licensed practitioner outlining the conditions being treated with cannabis. Before your journey to Thailand, you must also complete a form declaring the amount of medical cannabis you’re carrying. It’s important to be aware that the Thai government has placed restrictions on foreign involvement in the cannabis industry, but certain exceptions, such as for medical tourism, do exist.

Cannabis licensing history

Since the delisting of cannabis from the Narcotics Code on June 9, 2022, there has been a significant rise in cannabis dispensaries across Thailand. This change marked a pivotal move in Thai cannabis policy, opening up opportunities for both local entrepreneurs and, to a more limited extent, foreign nationals. However, it’s key to remember that the production, importation, and distribution of cannabis for non-medical and non-academic purposes remain strictly regulated.

Licensing guide & checklist

To legally engage in cannabis-related activities such as cultivation, distribution, or extraction for medical purposes, you’ll need to navigate the licensing process. Eligible applicants include Thai citizens and companies with majority Thai ownership, registered under Thai law. Here’s a quick checklist to get you started:

  • Ensure eligibility as a Thai national or a company with majority Thai ownership.
  • Determine the type of cannabis license required (e.g., production, distribution, importation).
  • Gather necessary documentation, including business registration and medical certificates if applicable.
  • Submit your application to the relevant Thai authorities, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB).

New GACP guidelines in Thailand

The Thai government has introduced GACP (Good Agricultural and Collection Practices) guidelines to ensure the quality and safety of medical cannabis products. These guidelines cover a range of practices, from cultivation to harvest, aiming to standardize the production of cannabis to meet international standards.

GACP requirements & application

To comply with GACP guidelines and apply for a cannabis license in Thailand, you’ll need to adhere to the following requirements:

  • Implement quality control measures throughout the cultivation and harvesting process.
  • Ensure that cannabis products are free from contaminants and pesticides.
  • Maintain detailed records of cultivation and production practices.

Applying for GACP certification involves preparing thorough documentation of your cultivation and production practices and submitting them for review by the Thai FDA or relevant authorities. Achieving GACP certification is not only a step towards legal compliance but also a move towards ensuring the highest quality of medical cannabis products in Thailand.

As the Thai cannabis industry continues to evolve, staying informed about the latest regulations and guidelines is essential for anyone looking to enter this market. Whether you’re a local entrepreneur or a foreign national seeking medical cannabis, understanding the licensing process is the first step towards navigating this promising industry.

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Regulations & license requirements

Venturing into Thailand’s medical cannabis industry requires a deep understanding of its licensing framework and a commitment to compliance. Whether you’re aiming to cultivate, distribute, process, or import cannabis seeds for medical purposes, knowing the specific prerequisites and adhering to the stringent extraction regulations is crucial. The journey to obtaining a cannabis license, especially for foreign nationals, is paved with detailed steps that demand attention and precision. With the recent shift in the legal landscape allowing the rise of cannabis dispensaries, the opportunities for local entrepreneurs have significantly expanded, though remain more limited for foreign participants. Moreover, the introduction of GACP guidelines underscores the importance of quality and safety in medical cannabis products. As the industry continues to evolve, staying abreast of the latest regulations and guidelines is indispensable for anyone looking to make their mark in the Thai cannabis sector.

Parts of this article, including images, may have been generated using AI tools before an editor reviewed it.

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Author: Konain Asif