Thailand Since 2014, the Thai government has issued special permits allowing the cultivation of hemp. However, the hemp seed itself has remained illegal, leading to practical problems that still need to be solved. Alan Dronkers, who lives in Thailand, reports on this case.
On the 19th of September 2015, the Thai Highland Magazine organised an information day about hemp in Thailand.
Thailand has set up royal initiatives to investigate hemp and initiated a program aiming to develop a hemp seed strain suitable for industrial use. The program which started over 10 years ago involved the participation of foreign institutions, including breeders from the agricultural university of Wageningen in the Netherlands and has recently come to an end. I was very fortunate to be able to visit a Royal Institute for Agriculture near the Northern city of Chiang Mai where I was able to visit a field producing their new hemp strain.
A cultural heritage
Until last year, hemp could only be grown legally In Thailand by the hill tribe known as the Hmong for religious use. The plants they cultivate are true hemp with a low THC profile and their fibres are considered holy. These are used to produce clothing which is believed to enable the recently deceased to reunite with their ancestors in the afterlife. These traditional clothes still play an important role and are used at funerals and weddings.
Since 2014, the Thai government has issued special permits allowing the cultivation of hemp. However, the hemp seed itself has remained illegal, leading to practical problems that still need to be solved. A fear that cannabis plants with high THC levels being secretly grown in the hemp fields remains for police and the authorities even though doing so would spoil any attempt at making good Sinsemilla. Nevertheless. the Thai can be very practical and pragmatic at finding solutions and the royal endorsement in researching the topic of hemp has established a solid base for true developments in the field.
I am overall very optimistic and happy to see all this happening and try to be helpful for any local initiatives involving fibre hemp. I was one of the invited guest to this meeting as a Hempflax representative, now the second largest primary processor of hemp fibre in Europe. As such, I was able to provide information about how hemp as a large scale industrial crop works. I hope this will lead to initiatives aiming to set up a hemp processing industry and mechanise the agricultural process to allow Thailand to become competitive on an international level. This will allow the return of this ancient crop to Thailand and further enhance their vision of a society of sufficiency based upon sustainable natural resources.
Hemp could once again be seen as an important crop of the future, as it already was here in the past.
My thumbs up for Thai hemp!