The cannabis industry in Thailand took its first concrete step in February of 2019, when medical cannabis was unexpectedly legalized. In August 2019, a Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) notification delisted some components and derivatives of cannabis plants from the category of narcotics and reclassified them as products within the purview of individual laws (e.g., on medicine, herbal products, cosmetics, food, etc.). Then, in October 2019, the Narcotics Control Committee clarified the legal definition of hemp in order to streamline the development of the hemp industry, which is not limited to medical applications. After months of inactivity in 2020, caused by the refocusing of attention on efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, the Thai FDA recently circulated draft MOPH notifications that aim to govern hemp-based food ingredients under the Food Act.
Under these draft notifications, only non-viable hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, and protein derived from hemp seeds will be allowed as ingredients in food products. This means the development of food and food supplements comprising those ingredients is likely to be allowed soon. The key features of these drafts are provided below.
Products and Ingredients
In the present drafts, hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, proteins from hemp seeds (as defined in law), and food supplements containing these ingredients are classified as “specially controlled foods,” a product category associated with the highest risk under the Food Act B.E. 2522 (1979).
In addition to existing notifications on food contaminants, the drafts prescribe the maximum levels of impurities, such as cadmium and lead, that can be found in the hemp seeds. Moreover, the total THC must not exceed 5 ppm (that is, 5 milligrams per kilogram) in dry hemp seeds, and the CBD content must not exceed 30 ppm in dry hemp seeds. More standards are also proposed for hemp seed oil, proteins from hemp seeds, and various other hemp-based food products.
In the presentation of the products, statements claiming any type or amount of THC or CBD, or any health claims about these substances, are prohibited. On the other hand, a statement or claim about the hemp seed, hemp seed oil, or proteins from hemp seeds may be allowed, subject to rules prescribed in a separate notification pertaining to health claims in food products.
Notable label requirements include “May contain THC and CBD. Anyone with allergies or sensitivities to said substances should consume with caution,” and “No therapeutic properties.”