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  • Alexander Bencore

Thailand Cannabis on UNESCO Cultural Heritage List?

Perusing The Thaiger as one does, this headline grabbed my attention:

"Plan to Land Thai Cannabis on UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List"


Last week our Publisher, Christopher Smith, did a story on the State of Cannabis News Hour, followed up with a story here on the American Cannabis Report, about how Thailand is legalizing cannabis for adult use – the first in Asia to do so. The legalization is to go into effect in 2022. Medicinal cannabis was legalized in Thailand in 2018, also the first time in Asia, and the country has built medicinal cannabis into their national healthcare system, because plant medicine is ancient and honored in Thailand.

[ ... and since we've done so much for Thai-tourism on Clubhouse, a little plane ticket…? ]

At the end of the story the room was asked if they (you) thought Thailand should make “Thai Stick” in a cornerstone of the country brand…

Turns out, the Thai government is taking an even more dynamic approach, and what’s very interesting to me is how deeply serious many branches of the government are taking cannabis in Thailand. In the US, most politicians treat it like Voldemort despite its many uses and benefits.

Last week’s story featured the Health Minister, and now the Ministry of Culture is getting involved in promoting their nascent industry. "While some would call the effects of marijuana anything but intangible, the Ministry of Culture is planning to get Thai ganja on the UNESCO "intangible cultural heritage" list. The ministry claims that Thai cannabis has been used in all regions of the country as an herb, while locally grown weed has gained popularity abroad." (I guess that’s where the Thai Stick comes in, so I was on the right track…)


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) maintains an esteemed list of world heritage sites…" and examples in the US include stuff like the Grand Canyon, Redwood National Forest, Mammoth Caves, the Statue of Liberty – there are 24 sites in all, plus 8 Frank Lloyd Wright buildings across the US, there are 1,154 UNESCO sites around the world.

What Thailand is doing is appealing to UNESCO to give them a listing for “intangible cultural heritage”, which they define as “a practice, representation, expression, knowledge, or skill considered by UNESCO to be part of a place’s cultural heritage.”

And if all this seems strange or farfetched, consider that "The plan was perhaps inspired by the success Thailand had in 2019, when the Ministry of Culture partnered with the Ministry of Public Health to successfully petition UNESCO to get Thai massage registered on the intangible cultural heritage list."

The Deputy Director-General of the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine explains the government’s strategy to gain global attention for Thailand’s emerging cannabis industry.

“If UNESCO registers Thai cannabis as sort of a world heritage, known as an ‘intangible cultural heritage’, it will help spread the reputation of using cannabis for health and one that originates from Thailand.”

The first step to being added to the UNESCO list is a registration of a National Wisdom Heritage of Thailand. That would involve gathering 30 species of cannabis from Thailand and registering it, which the Ministry of Culture intends to do by March of 2022.

After that, the path is cleared to allow Thailand to apply in 2023 to be added to the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list.


Two questions, Dear Readers:

  1. Wouldn’t it be amazing if cannabis is listed as a UNESCO cultural heritage of Thailand while it’s still on Schedule 4 of the UN Narcotics List?

  2. If Thailand can get cultural heritage listing for its cannabis, surely California and especially the Emerald Triangle would have a significant claim…

Love to hear what you think!

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