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Medical Marijuana in Thailand: Where do Foreigners Stand?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing medical marijuana; we have had other videos on this channel with respect to this topic. For those who are unaware, the National Legislative Assembly here in the Kingdom has recently promulgated and passed legislation which would make certain types of marijuana legal in the Kingdom, specifically for medical usage.

Now this has yet to be put on the books so to speak, as it has not been published in The Royal Gazette and therefore has not come into effect or has not been put on track to come into effect prospective from that publication.  

But that being said, some things have come about in response to this new law most notably various patents which were being sought by, it would appear, those from overseas with respect to medical marijuana or medical cannabis. They were essentially all thrown out.  This just went down a couple of weeks back and basically there were people that were apparently seeking patents with respect to I think it's like certain strains of medical cannabis and basically an order was issued that basically throw out those applications in favor of providing Thai service providers, providing Thai Institutions, sort of first crack or perhaps maybe not even first crack,  just simply no patent protection was going to be brought in to sort of for lack of better term "pull the rug out from underneath" those who are looking to be in this industry here in the Kingdom. 

That being said, there was an article that was very interesting. It was published in Khao Sod English, that is khaosodenglish.com.  The title is Thai Law:  Foreigners and the Medical Marijuana Law Explained, it was written by Wirot Poonsuwan, an attorney and it is very good.  I am going to quote just a couple of pieces of it but again the title is Thai Law:  Foreigners and the Medical Marijuana Law Explained.  It is Khao Sod English.  I urge those who are watching this video go check it out. It is worth the read because it's much longer. I specifically just want to discuss prospectively what it's going to look like with respect to foreigners if and when this law comes into existence. What is their general posture going to be with respect to this issue. Quoting directly: ”Foreigners have been expressly excluded from the new law. Foreign companies and foreign majority companies incorporated in Thailand are prohibited from producing, selling, importing, exporting and possessing cannabis. The restrictions on foreign involvement understandably resulted from a recent "Thailand First" sentiment that resulted from an outcry against foreign applicants with advanced technology and capability applying for Thai patent protection prior to the opening of the domestic market; I mentioned that a moment ago. Okay so those are the restrictions. Now we're going to be talking about, just to paraphrase, we are going to be talking about some of the openings for foreigners to possibly enjoy certain aspects of the new legislation. "First, easy exceptions are built in for weed, medical tourism; that is to say International Travelers coming in and out of Thailand with illnesses that can be treated by marijuana.  Visitors coming for ganja therapy must first obtain a license from the FDA to import, export, possess the necessary amounts of marijuana prescribed for treatment.”  There is not much clarity on what that means yet. That is very telling.  We don't know exactly how this is going to play out on a practical level until we see the regulatory structure that comes into effect after this law is put on the books and we start to see how this matter is going to be regulated. So it remains to be seen with respect to exactly how this is going to work for foreigners.

Further, "Companies established under Thai law that have a local office qualify for licenses to produce, sell, import, export and possess marijuana, if Thai Nationals own at least two-thirds of the capital and if at least two-thirds of the directors are Thai. The law makers were hoping that one-third ownership of the Thai company could result in transfer of some technology and know-how for developing marijuana based pharmaceutical products for local distribution and export.

So again, not totally shut out although special exception is made so it's not even a 49/51 regime with respect to these prospective institutions that would be possibly operating in the medical marijuana space. It is a two-third set up including the board; not just two-thirds ownership.

So clearly there's going to be some heavy regulation especially with respect to foreigners who wish to be involved in this business in the future. I think it is safe to say that the jury is still out on exactly what kind of enjoyment foreigners are going to be accorded under this scheme but as this issue progresses and evolves, we will go ahead and do further updates in order to provide at least some clarity and some insight with respect to this issue. Again, I strongly recommend those who are interested in this. Thai Law:  Foreigners and the Medical Marijuana Law Explained.  That is Khao Sod English.