Cannabis-related products have become more accessible in Thailand, and nationwide convenience stores and vending machines can now offer bottled drinks scented like the plant.
Ichitan Group, Thailand’s largest manufacturer of ready-to-drink teas, has launched two terpene-infused drinks.
Terpenes are compounds found in various plants but are best known for being the primary source of that distinctive ganja smell of cannabis. The new drinks’ bottles include a logo that resembles the five-leaf cannabis plant.
They do not contain psychoactive substances like cannabidiol like other drink combinations or controlled substances.
The two Ichitan tea products are a no-sugar camomile green tea flavor scented with terpene and a sweetened green tea flavor scented with lemon and terpene. Both of these bottled beverages have recently gone on sale at 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country.
People can also find them shopping malls, other convenience stores, and more than 13,000 Sun Vending Technology vending machines for 30 baht.
Ichitan expects to reach 500 million baht ($16 million) in sales for the products in their first year, becoming the first company in Thailand to domestically mass market cannabis products. According to its CEO and president Tan Passakornnatee, its target demographic group is the “urban new generation,” and that being the first to commercialize cannabis beverages is an important strategy.
“Being the first mover in the new market will be an important factor to gain an advantage [with] the product launch, while studying the behavior target customers,” he said.
Thailand legalized medical marijuana registration for the first time in 2019 and further relaxed restrictions in January. Any person or company can obtain permits to acquire, cultivate, produce and sell products derived from or containing hemp.
Although part of the plant can be processed to make medicines, cosmetics, and food, the hemp used in beverages has not been fully legalized.
“We have a strong alliance with production sources, [and are] expecting to receive a license for [hemp] planting and extraction, covering upstream and midstream,” Tan said. “Once the green light from the law is received, production can be started instantly,” he added.
In Thailand, hemp and cannabis are treated differently.
Although they belong to the same family, hemp is almost tetrahydrocannabinol (THC )-free and is known for its strong fibers, valuable for creating rope, paper, clothing, and other products.