Head of Healthcare and Life Sciences Industry Group | M&A, Bangkok
Partner, Healthcare & Life Sciences | M&A, Bangkok
Since the amendment of the Thai Narcotics Act allowing the use of cannabis for medical purposes for the first time in 2019, Thailand continues to take strides to deregulate certain parts and extracts of the cannabis and hemp plants, expanding the scope of their application to cosmetics and food. Recent legislative changes that are impacting the cannabis and hemp industry are summarized in further detail below, with a particular focus on cosmetics and food.
Removal of certain parts and extracts of the cannabis and hemp plants from the list of category V narcotics
Late last year, the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) issued a notification exempting certain parts and extracts of the cannabis and hemp plants from the list of category V narcotics. These include: (i) bark, trunk, fiber, stem and root of cannabis and hemp; (ii) leaves without shoot tip and flowers of cannabis and hemp; (iii) cannabis and hemp extracts containing cannabidiol (CBD) and containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) not exceeding 0.2% by weight; (iv) cannabis and hemp residues after extraction containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) not exceeding 0.2% by weight; and (v) hemp seed, hemp seed oil, or hemp seed extracts.
Importation of parts and extracts of the cannabis and/or hemp plants which are exempted from the list of category V narcotics will still be subject to the Narcotics Act, except for dried bark, dried trunk core and dried fiber of cannabis and hemp plants.
The category V narcotics which are used as quality control substance for analysis and quality control of narcotics substance detection in the body are also exempted from the list of category V narcotics.
Cannabis and hemp seeds to be regulated as a controlled seed
Additional regulations with respect to controlled seeds under the Plant Varieties Act, to be in line with the Narcotics Act, were also published to become effective around mid-August 2021. These regulations, once effective, will make the seeds of all strains of cannabis and hemp a “controlled seed.” Specific requirements will be imposed on those who wish to collect and store cannabis and hemp seeds for sale, including quality control with respect to seed germination and purity, storage facilities and related licensing requirements.
Criteria and requirements on the use of cannabis and hemp in cosmetics
The MOPH also issued several notifications to prescribe the criteria and requirements in relation to the use of cannabis and hemp in cosmetics, including the permitted parts of the cannabis and hemp plant and extracts, the permitted level of THC and the permitted CBD, and applicable labelling and warning requirements.
In essence, cosmetics containing cannabis or hemp parts as an ingredient must comply with the following key requirements:
- In general, parts of cannabis and hemp that are no longer considered as narcotics can be used, provided that they must be dry parts and used for the purpose of cosmetics.
- The notifications specify the types of cosmetics that these cannabis and hemp parts can be used to manufacture, as well as the level of permitted THC. For cosmetics containing CBD extracts from cannabis or hemp as an ingredient, the use of synthetic cannabidiol is not allowed.
- Importation of cannabis and hemp parts as raw materials or cosmetics containing cannabis and hemp parts for the purpose of cosmetics is not allowed.
- Manufacturers (including contract manufacturers) of the above cosmetics must provide cosmetics labels and warnings, including those relating to potential health risks and the substances used in the cosmetics as specified in relevant notifications, as well as the level of CBD by weight, as applicable.
Removal of exempted cannabis and exempted hemp from the list of prohibited plants in food products
Following the MOPH’s creation of “exempted cannabis” and “exempted hemp” from Thailand’s category V narcotics list, in the beginning of this year, the MOPH further issued a highly anticipated notification that amended the designation of foods which are prohibited from being produced, imported or sold (the “Prohibited Food Notification”). The Prohibited Food Notification no longer prohibits the use of exempted cannabis and exempted hemp in food products.
The Prohibited Food Notification repealed the previous MOPH notification that prohibited every part of the cannabis plant and the hemp plant from being used as food ingredients and amended the list of prohibited plants or parts of plants to remove exempted cannabis and exempted hemp from the list. Business operators will be able to use exempted cannabis and/or exempted hemp as an ingredient in food products in accordance with the applicable MOPH regulations to be issued in respect of the related food quality and standards.
Accordingly, another implementing regulation prescribing food products, food quality and standard of hemp seed, hemp seed oil, hemp seed protein and food supplement which contains hemp seed, hemp seed oil, and hemp seed protein as an ingredient was also issued earlier this year.
The deregulations have the potential to propel growth in the cosmetics and food industry in Thailand and ensure its promising position in this market, with many companies and business operators in Thailand showing strong interests in this area.