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From watermelon to weed: Thai farmers regret switching to cannabis as prices fall

When Thailand legalised cannabis for medical use in June 2022, thousands rushed to stake their claim, including small-time farmer Tukta Sinnin. The 43-year-old pumped in nearly 500,000 baht (S$19,500) to grow more than 400 cannabis plants on her land in Nakhon Phanom, a north-east province by the Mekong River.

However, after nearly a year, Mrs Tukta has not sold any of her cannabis crop, let alone turned a profit. “I’m very disappointed. We lost money. Nobody wants to buy our crop,” she told The Straits Times. “It’s not a cash crop.”

With the local medical marijuana market projected to be worth about 43 billion baht by 2025, the move to delist the cannabis plant as a narcotic was intended to not just boost national income, but also to help small- and medium-sized businesses and rural farmers earn extra income.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, whose Bhumjaithai Party had championed the legalisation of medical cannabis, had even said he wanted to turn Nakhon Phanom into “Cannabis City” to boost its economy and tourism appeal.


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