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Putting a Stop to Cronyism: What Needs to Happen for Thailand’s Cannabis Industry to Thrive


When you think of Thailand’s cannabis industry, you likely think of a booming market with great potential. After all, it’s already one of the biggest producers of cannabis in Asia, and is home to a vibrant cannabis culture.

But the reality is that Thailand’s cannabis industry is being held back by cronyism—the practice of giving advantages to those who have ‘connections.’ This has resulted in a system where the same players are controlling licenses, stifling innovation and competition.

In this article, we’re discussing how cronyism is preventing Thailand’s cannabis industry from reaching its potential, and what needs to happen for it to thrive. We’ll explore how cronyism works in the context of the Thai cannabis industry, including the implications for businesses and consumers alike, as well as what needs to be done to ensure a level playing field.

Understanding Cronyism and Why It Stifles Cannabis Industry

Have you ever heard of cronyism in the context of Thailand’s cannabis industry? It’s one of the reasons why the country is lagging behind when it comes to cannabis reform. But what is cronyism, and why is it a roadblock for Thailand’s budding cannabis market?

Cronyism refers to a situation in which a certain group or person with political connections has exclusive access to businesses and opportunities. In Thailand, powerful politicians have been cultivating relationships with people in the illegal cannabis trade in order to gain access to economic benefits and overseas markets. It’s no surprise, then, that decriminalizing cannabis in 2022 hasn’t led to the kind of high-growth cannabis industry that many had anticipated.

In addition to cronyism, another factor that has stifled innovation and investment opportunities in the Thai cannabis sector is local government bureaucracy. Despite entering into a new era of legal status for medical marijuana, Thailand’s laws remain unclear, leaving investors wary of exploring business opportunities in this space. If Thailand wants its cannabis industry to thrive, it needs more clarity on regulations and policies—and put an end to cronyism.

How Cronyism Affects Thailand’s Cannabis Industry

Cronyism is the lifeblood of many industries, and the cannabis industry is no exception. The atmosphere of cronyism stifles the progress of an industry that could potentially be a major boost for the Thai economy.

The cannabis industry in Thailand is walking a political tightrope—the Bhumjaithai Party, who ushered in sweeping changes, wants them to succeed, but at the same time it must keep opposing parties like the Phua Thai, who remain hostile to recreational cannabis, happy. This has led to highly restrictive regulations and strict rules that are preventing any real progress from being made.

To make matters worse, cannabis-related businesses face hefty fines and potential jail time if they don’t comply with these regulations. This not only discourages investment in the industry but also makes it difficult for talented entrepreneurs to enter the market. If Thailand wants to be successful in its foray into cannabis-based medicine and industrial products, it needs to remove cronyism as an influence on its cannabis industry.

How the Monopoly Affects Prices and Availability

Cronyism in Thailand’s cannabis industry is standing in the way of progress. Because the industry is so monopolized, prices are inflated, and some products aren’t even available. That’s why it’s really important that the playing field be leveled to make sure everyone has access to what they need.

The good news is that studies have shown that Thailand’s cannabis market size can grow at a CAGR of 36.7% between 2021 and 2028, reaching USD 9.6 billion. This sounds like great news, but it won’t mean much unless something is done about the monopoly issue that plagues the market.

So how can this situation be fixed? The key here is to increase competition among producers by increasing access to licenses to new growers and sellers, which will drive down prices in a regulated market and give customers more options when it comes to where they shop for cannabis products. With more competition on the market, people will be able to get more bang for their buck—and everyone can win.

What Needs to Be Done to Break Up the Monopoly

If you want to break up the monopoly on Thailand’s cannabis industry and level the playing field, then what needs to be done?
First, decriminalization of marijuana in 2022 was a great step forward, but there needs to be a broader effort to reduce taxation even further, particularly for Agricultural Cooperative Societies. This could help break up the cronyism and create an even playing field for all farmers and businesses wanting to enter the industry.

Second, restrictions on cannabis products need to be relaxed. Currently, pot products are limited in strength, so this should be addressed so that people have access to a more diverse range of products with varying strengths and effects.

Finally, more research is needed. There is still little information on how different strains can benefit health and wellness, for example, so more studies need to be carried out and disseminated at an affordable cost so everyone can benefit from this information.

What Legal Changes Are Needed to Free Up Cannabis Industry

The law has been amended in Thailand to promote the commercialization of the cannabis industry, which is a great first step—but it’s not enough to get rid of cronyism in the industry.

So what else needs to be done?

Strengthening Anti-monopoly Regulations

The most important thing would be strengthening anti-monopoly regulations—the airlines, alcohol and tobacco industries have them, so why not cannabis too? Having these regulations ensures that big companies can’t take up all the market share and shut out small and midsize companies.

Promoting Open Access to Cultivation Licensing

Second, open access to cultivation licensing needs to be promoted. It’s easy for large businesses with money and connections to get ahold of licenses, whereas it’s a lot more difficult for a small business or someone from an underprivileged background who doesn’t have contacts or know people in high places. The only way for this industry to thrive is if everyone is given an equal opportunity.

Creating More Transparency

Third and lastly, transparency needs to be increased. This includes things like regulating prices that larger players can charge on their products and setting limits on advertising campaigns run by companies with deep pockets in order to level the playing field and make it easier for smaller companies.
In conclusion, cronyism is stifling Thailand’s cannabis industry—the only way forward is to make sure everyone has equal opportunities and access by creating strong regulations, promoting open access licensing, increasing transparency with regards to pricing and advertising campaigns, among other things.

Benefits of Ending Cronyism in Cannabis Industry in Thailand

The benefits of ending cronyism in Thailand’s cannabis industry are clear. It is predicted that the legalization of cannabis will open up opportunities for businesses from 12 industries, including medical and hospitality, as well as investments from foreign companies. This in turn has the potential to create jobs and provide a boost to the Thai economy as an influx of capital and new investments can help spur growth.

Additionally, ending cronyism would ensure that more stakeholders play a role in developing Thailand’s cannabis industry and make sure that it is shaped by inclusivity, fairness, and innovation. With an open market for cannabis, businesses can access resources they need to develop new products or services and create a larger customer base with greater buying power. Furthermore, it would be beneficial for those already established in the industry as it can help support competition which could lead to increased innovation among different players.

By ending cronyism, Thailand can establish itself as a leader in the cannabis industry while allowing businesses of all sizes to have access to resources they need to succeed, creating an even playing field that allows anyone to capitalize on the opportunities presented by legalization.


In conclusion, cronyism is a roadblock for Thailand’s cannabis industry to reach its full potential to contribute to the economy and society. This problem needs to be addressed with greater transparency, anti-corruption measures, and reform of the laws and regulations. When these measures are put in place, the cannabis industry will be an important contributor to Thailand’s economy and society going forward.

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