BURIRAM, Thailand – A Buddhist monk fishes out a vial of cannabis oil from his robe and puts a drop under his tongue – one of many people flocking to a weed festival in northeastern Thailand, where excitement is building over a medical marijuana boom.
Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize marijuana for medical purposes last year, joining a growing list of governments including Canada, Australia, Israel and more than half the US states.
The global market is forecast to reach tens of billions in under a decade, but slow-moving implementation of the Thai law has lagged behind a wave of local enthusiasm.
A political party has endorsed the plant’s benefits while marijuana-themed conferences and panels have sprung up across Thailand, with the three-day festival in Buriram town being the latest showcase for the drug’s uses.
The “Pan Buriram” (Buriram Strain) festival, ending Sunday, is a first for the sleepy town located about five hours northeast of Bangkok and known