World Focus

Thai farmers cashing in on cannabis

Handwoven hemp cloth (left) being dried after it has been dyed and a hemp plant (right) in a research facility in Chiang Mai. Marijuana being grown for medical purposes, such as treating epilepsy and managing pain. In the United States, where 29 of i
Marijuana being grown for medical purposes, such as treating epilepsy and managing pain. In the United States, where 29 of its 50 states allow the use of medical marijuana, the cannabis industry was reportedly worth around US$9 billion (S$12 billion) last year. PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO
Handwoven hemp cloth (left) being dried after it has been dyed and a hemp plant (right) in a research facility in Chiang Mai. Marijuana being grown for medical purposes, such as treating epilepsy and managing pain. In the United States, where 29 of i
Seamstress Thanyaporn Thanomworakul sorting out the fibres of the hemp plant. She works on a 1,600 sq m plantation with two other women. In Thailand, hemp is still a relatively small-scale venture, with most of the hemp used by the growers themselves. ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE
Handwoven hemp cloth (left) being dried after it has been dyed and a hemp plant (right) in a research facility in Chiang Mai. Marijuana being grown for medical purposes, such as treating epilepsy and managing pain. In the United States, where 29 of i
Raw hemp yarn (above) is woven by Hmong women on a handloom to make a durable, temperature-regulating fabric.ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE
Handwoven hemp cloth (left) being dried after it has been dyed and a hemp plant (right) in a research facility in Chiang Mai. Marijuana being grown for medical purposes, such as treating epilepsy and managing pain. In the United States, where 29 of i
Raw hemp yarn is woven by Hmong women on a handloom (above) to make a durable, temperature-regulating fabric.ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE
Handwoven hemp cloth (left) being dried after it has been dyed and a hemp plant (right) in a research facility in Chiang Mai. Marijuana being grown for medical purposes, such as treating epilepsy and managing pain. In the United States, where 29 of i
Handwoven hemp cloth (above) being dried after it has been dyed and a hemp plant in a research facility in Chiang Mai. ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE
Handwoven hemp cloth (left) being dried after it has been dyed and a hemp plant (right) in a research facility in Chiang Mai. Marijuana being grown for medical purposes, such as treating epilepsy and managing pain. In the United States, where 29 of i
Handwoven hemp cloth being dried after it has been dyed and a hemp plant (above) in a research facility in Chiang Mai. ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE

Plans to tap the economic potential of hemp a boon for Thai growers

Like many other Hmong people, Ms Thanyaporn Thanomworakul has been growing hemp near her home in the mountains for as long as she can remember. Its yarn clothes her family for important rituals marking every milestone, from birth to death.

Unlike her ancestors though, she is not allowed to keep any seed. The tall leafy cannabis sativa is lopped off before it flowers so as to comply with a Thai government policy to control a possible narcotic while still allowing the hill tribe to retain its tradition.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2018, with the headline 'Cashing in on cannabis'. Print Edition | Subscribe