In June of 2022, cannabis was decriminalised in Thailand, marking the one-year anniversary this month. Overnight, the nascent cannabis industry took off, with dispensaries popping up left and right. To get a better understanding of the cannabis industry in Thailand, we spoke with Thanisorn “Phet” Boonsoong, CEO of Eastern Spectrum Group (ESG), Thailand’s pioneer cannabis plant manufacturer.
A Pioneer Within the Industry
Boonsoong is a Northeastern University graduate with an entrepreneurial spirit, driving him to pursue various interests, including the budding fields of cannabis and hemp production. ESG was founded in 2019 by Boonsoong and his friends: Calvin Chen, Somil Sawansukha, Pitchayatorn Paha, and Vasharada Lapcharoen. The company’s mission is to produce high-quality cannabis and hemp while maintaining strict medicinal standards.
ESG specializes in cultivation, processing, and extraction and has facilities in the northern and central provinces. Boonsoong oversees all operations, ensuring the quality and consistency of crops grown in over 200 rai of land. ESG is also one of the few fully integrated companies within Thailand’s cannabis industry, with a national-scale drying and extraction factory.
Boonsoong is also Theta land’s Vice President of Hemp and Cannabis Industries Association, working to develop this industry in a competitive and sustainable manner while furthering regulations.
The Wild West of Thailand’s Cannabis Industry
Despite Thailand’s decriminalization of cannabis, Boonsoong expressed his dissatisfaction with how the situation was handled. The lack of tangible laws has opened up a gray area for recreational consumption, which puts the government’s vision of medicinal cannabis at risk. As one of the first movers in the industry, ESG has adapted to work with many dispensaries and supply them with products that still adhere to the initial business model, such as CBD extracts used in tinctures, massage oils, and pre-rolls.
Boonsoong also highlights the political usage of cannabis as a weapon between political parties, resulting in ESG’s regulations and the Thai cannabis industry remaining at a standstill. However, he also believes that medicinal cannabis is here to stay and that it is only the opportunists making a quick profit that will feel the brunt of any negative repercussions. Dispensaries won’t disappear but will be subjected to better control on access and distribution.
Looking to the Future
Boonsoong believes that there is still room for the industry to grow, with non-psychoactive extracts such as CBD catering to Asian demands for herbal supplements, skincare, and cosmetics. For ESG, the focus is also on utilizing cannabis in traditional manufacturing and sustainable energy industries, with hemp as a new cornerstone material for a “greener future”.
Boonsoong’s vision for Thailand’s cannabis industry is expansive, where ESG and other industry leaders would expand into all fields such as medical and consumer goods, food and beverage, recreational, industrial manufacturing, transportation, energy, construction, and textiles.
With ESG’s dedication to producing quality cannabis and hemp while pushing for responsible regulations, Thailand’s cannabis industry may become a global powerhouse in the future.