For centuries Thai landraces have been cultivated and acclimated to the local environment. The fact is we still know very little about the genetic and chemotype diversity among these landraces. The few that have been studied were found to be genetically distinct from those in North America and Europe, which, from a plant breeding perspective is extremely important, as many commercially cultivated strains are highly inbred, leading to widespread disease susceptibility, loss of vigour, and essentially so impractical to improve through breeding they become a genetic dead-end. In Thailand, it is believed nearby populations of wild cannabis often accidentally pollinate local landraces, introducing a continuous stream of new genetic material. For this reason, Thai landraces and wild populations offer a unique and largely untapped source of variation to be mined for novel traits, combating disease susceptibility, therapeutic and other applications.
Thailand also has some of the most strict pharmaceutical manufacturing standards in the world. As a result, it is an exporter of both natural and conventional medicines to countries with high health and safety standards such as Singapore, South Korea and Japan, and large pharma companies such as Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and others, operate in Thailand for their South East Asian manufacturing hub. Hence, there is every reason to believe locally produced cannabinoid-based medicines destined for export will be manufactured to equivalent quality standards.
Thailand’s medicinal cannabis industry has clearly captured a regional 1st mover advantage. However, the untapped genetic potential of local landraces and wild populations, and Thailand’s proficiency at producing medicines to exceptionally high standards suggest the industry has tremendous potential and is primed to become the epicentre of legal Cannabis in South East Asia.