American THC for medical clinic in Bangkok

BANGKOK, Thailand – A Las Vegas-based cannabis company has become the first foreign franchise to jointly open a medical marijuana clinic in Thailand, treating Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, eating disorders and insomnia in the flashy tourist area of ​​Bangkok.

“I hope Thailand will become the Silicon Valley of cannabis for Asia,” said Julpas Kruesopon, the clinic’s Thai partner – “or as most people in Thailand call me now, ‘Mister Weed'” – said in an interview.

“I welcome Israeli companies. I welcome European companies. The key is to develop the industry,” Julpas said.

The Herbidus Medical Center opened in March along Bangkok’s main road, Sukhumvit, which is lined with restaurants, hotels, massage parlors, sex bars and extravagant shopping malls amidst exotic locales and 5 stars.

The U.S.-Thai joint venture “makes us, to our knowledge, the first international company with an operational presence in the Asian legal cannabis market,” Audacious CEO Terry Booth said in a statement.

Mr Julpas said theirs was “absolutely” the first joint cannabis clinic with a foreign company in Thailand.

This “will be a tremendous opportunity to establish the Audacious brand internationally,” Booth said.

“Under the terms of the agreement, Audacious is not required to provide capital for construction, working capital or for any other purpose,” the company announced in November.

“Audacious will provide consulting services, operational intelligence including cultivation, manufacturing and product development, and the expansion of brand visibility in Thailand and beyond,” the company said.

“It will also help Thai products to be sold in the United States and Canada,” Julpas said.

Australis Capital Inc. (CSE: AUSA) (OTC: AUSAF) – doing business as Audacious – has partnered with Thailand-based food manufacturer and distributor NR Instant Produce, and its subsidiary Golden Triangle Health co-founded by Mr. Julpas.

“Sleep disturbances seem to be the number one problem for people who come to our clinic.

“We have a THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) oil and a CBD (cannabidiol) oil that we partner with the Government Pharmaceutical Organization of Thailand. So it’s legal, but more importantly, it’s clean.”

Doctors at the clinic examine patients and usually give them a very small dropper bottle containing a CBD-dominant liquid. [0.2 percent THC]
oil.

“All this we charge 1,000 baht [$30]. One buys
[the bottled oil] from the government — 450 baht
[$14].

“Every customer that comes in, per ticket we get, costs about $125 before going out,” with a slew of other Thai-made lotions and potions on sale in glass display cases.

“And we bring Audacious products. The profit margin on gummies is around 60%. Logistically, it’s the easiest thing to bring to Thailand.

“It’s light. There’s no refrigerator.”

In 2018, Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize medical cannabis.

In 2019, just before becoming health minister, Anutin Charnvirakul said Washington’s “political propaganda” in the 1960s and 1970s intentionally misled Thailand into believing marijuana was an “addictive” narcotic.

“During the Vietnam War, the reason the United States declared marijuana a narcotic was because once every [U.S.] the soldiers consumed this kind of substance, they could sleep. It calmed people down. It didn’t make people aggressive,” Mr Anutin said.

Bangkok appears to be hesitant to legalize cannabis for recreational use, partly because it is waiting for Washington to legalize it in the United States, otherwise banking arrangements and treaties between the two countries could become problematic.

At least 10 legal clinics, overseen by the Ministry of Health and other officials, have treated hundreds of thousands of Thais for common and serious illnesses with CBD-dominant cannabis oil.

But there isn’t enough locally grown and processed medical-grade cannabis to meet Thailand’s needs.

For example, Daycha Oil is produced by one of Thailand’s top medical cannabis practitioners, Siripatra Daycha.

It is one of the most popular CBD oils and is distributed by the Ministry of Health.

“Illegally, at least 600,000 people buy cannabis oil from underground producers,” Mr. Daycha said in 2020.

They primarily use a stronger, high-THC formula advertised online by Canadian cannabis activist Rick Simpson.

Cannabis, including hemp and other products, will soon be further legalized.

“In July, he [THC and
CBD cannabis] becomes a non-narcotic. And we can start shipping things. Probably in September,” Julpas said.

Recreational use remains illegal.

Audacious makes much “stronger” THC oil than Thailand, and these products could be purchased by medical establishments in Thailand to treat patients and allow officials to seek higher doses.

Stronger THC treatment would be classed as “research” – which will become licensed under medical supervision in July, Mr Julpas predicted.

The joint venture is also seeking other Thai partners to develop non-intoxicating CBD-infused products, including beauty creams, herbal remedies, spa treatments and beverages.

Today, various Thai companies are selling similar CBD-dominant products in malls and restaurants, emblazoned with large cannabis leaf logos.

But Thailand is far behind in sophisticated American marijuana technology.

“We’re at the very beginning of the cannabis business here. There really isn’t a THC cannabis farm like in the United States with quality control,” Julpas said.

“It’s going to take some time before Thailand can really get to that level.”

As a result, Audacious and other U.S. and foreign companies and investors have several opportunities.

Golden Triangle Health recently signed a five-year contract with Khon Kaen University in northeast Thailand to cultivate up to 1,000 acres and use the university’s equipment to manufacture CBD and other hemp products.

But Thai education and technology are not developed enough to create medical-grade products on a large scale.

“We have to find a way to extract more efficiently. Currently the yield is not very good, so I think this is a real opportunity for American companies,” Julpas said. “You can only do that with advanced technology.”

Also “tracking products, from seed, to grower, to flower, to extraction. There really aren’t many companies in Thailand that can do that. I think that’s something that American companies can do.

The biggest money is in medical cannabis tourism – not patients visiting clinics – he said.

Mr. Julpas imagines tourists enjoying medical cannabis “wellness” spas, nestled on tropical beaches and forested hillsides.

“I sincerely believe that the number one market for cannabis consumption in Thailand will actually not be Thais. It will be tourists.

“Tourists from India, China, Europe, coming here. China has a billion people who can’t sleep.”

Thailand currently enjoys a “first mover advantage” in Asia as Bangkok’s cannabis laws are the most liberal on the continent.

“Our tourism slogan is, we are ‘The Land of Smiles.’ Well, shoot, give them some cannabis, they’ll really smile!

“Thailand has a real advantage. We have our own strain here…Thai Stick, it’s a very well-known strain.”

“And we have something that other countries don’t have,” Julpas said, comparing Buddhist-majority Thailand with potential future cannabis producers, like Muslim-majority Malaysia and Indonesia.

“In Malaysia, in Indonesia, there is a religious aspect. What we don’t have, right? Buddhists, we are cool, we smoke drugs! You can quote me on that!”

***

Richard S. Ehrlich is a Bangkok-based American foreign correspondent who has reported from Asia since 1978. Mr. Ehrlich also contributed the “Ceremonies and Regalia” chapter to a non-fiction book published in English and Thai titled “King Bhumibol Adulyadej, A Life’s Work: The Thai Monarchy in Perspective.” Excerpts from his two new documentary books, “Rituals. Killers. Wars. & Sex. — Tibet, India, Nepal, Laos, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka & New York” and “Apocalyptic Tribes, Smugglers & Freaks” are available on
https://asia-correspondent.tumblr.com

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