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The Cannabis Advance: Thai Hospitality Embraces the Magic Plant

The unlikely star of a long social debate, troubling the minds of doctors and the general public alike for years, cannabis is coming back to the stage as the main actor. The plant seems to have divided the society into two camps with moderate positions being a rarity. Now, however, it looks like Thailand has settled on a favorable view toward marijuana.

Specifically, back in 2018, Thailand became the first Southeast Asian country to legalize the production, import, and export of cannabis for medical purposes. This year, the Kingdom’s authorities approved the de facto decriminalization of marijuana but (perhaps, intentionally) did not specify the rules regarding its recreational use.

These changes are said to be fostering an environment where cannabis tourism could help lift the otherwise badly affected industry from its knees. Indeed, experts say Thailand’s lenient regulations could lead to the increased demand for this location in medical and wellness tourism where marijuana often plays a key role.

“Thailand is well known as a destination for medical tourism and wellness travel. So, these sectors will surely benefit from the latest developments,” opined Dirk De Cuyper, CEO of S Hotels and Resorts.

Those in favor of the plant’s decriminalization argue that cannabis can help relieve stress, reduce fatigue, increase appetite, and encourage deeper sleep, as well as stimulate the intestines and soothe inflamed skin. Given these benefits, it is only natural that multiple hospitality and wellness brands have ventured into the cannabiland in Thailand, predicting high returns on marijuana-related investments.

One of the trailblazers, the luxury spa facility Panpuri Wellness, has even gone as far as to design a Holistic Cannabis Wellness Experience that includes spa treatments using cannabis leaves and cannabis-infused food and beverages. The world-famous Anantara is another major hospitality name placing its hopes on cannabis tourism. The chain’s spas have created three “journeys” that utilize CBD (cannabidiol) oil – the second most active ingredient in cannabis. Over at Anantara Chiang Mai Resort, “healthy and nutrition-rich” cannabis-infused dishes have debuted on the menu at Service 1921 restaurant.

“There is growing interest in the therapeutic benefits of CBD,” said Chunxia Gao, group director of spa & wellness at MSpa International for the Asia region. “With CBD safety guidelines ensuring the quality of the products, we can only foresee great success in CBD-infused products, superfood choices, and CBD spa and wellness experiences.”

Overall, it seems like cannabis is making strides in the hospitality industry. Attracting an ever-increasing number of supporters, the market for marijuana-related tourism is predicted to grow in the nearest future. It would not be surprising to see other countries enter the game, however, Thailand has already attained the first-mover advantage that other destinations will have to make up for.

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