Americans Hoping For Money From Marijuana
BANGKOK, Thailand -- High on hope, Americans and other
arrived selling satellite imagery, financial services, grow lights and
other products to profit from Thailand's recently legalized medical
marijuana before Thais figure out how to do it themselves.
Foreigners are excitedly gathering at
cannabis networking events in
Bangkok and elsewhere in this Southeast Asian nation, spouting sales
spiels and describing the most fantastic things since seedless joints.
They are also unraveling Thailand's newly
created tangle of cannabis
laws to find loopholes and ways to squeeze money from weed.
became legal in 2019. Recreational use did not and
still includes imprisonment.
As a result, the current
investment rush is toward niche
infrastructure for government-controlled medical research and
The Dutch are one of the new
dominating suppliers of potent seeds to
Thailand. The Netherlands has spent decades producing some of the best
cross-bred seeds, which are now being purchased by government-approved
Rockwood, who came to Thailand from Utah, said he wants
AgriTech Global Services' software and satellite link to help Thai
farmers "evaluate their land to see if it is a good location and has
good soil conditions, weather conditions, and enough skilled
cultivators for cannabis growing, harvesting and processing cannabis
Farmers can receive printed scans
created by satellites and software,
which produce color-coded maps and other data to reveal if their dirt
can grow good pot.
"We help analyze the land
by utilizing historical satellite scans over
the past few years with historical weather data, and run this data
through our proprietary artificial intelligence software engine to
determine the suitability of that land for cannabis," Mr. Rockwood
said in an interview.
"Continual plant growth monitoring weekly,
with ground sensors, and
satellite scan monitoring with advisory and crop yield forecasts,"
could determine which strains of cannabis to grow, and what the soil's
irrigation and fertilizer needs will be.
Some sectors where foreigners can compete with
technology through cultivation and extraction, genetics, and lifestyle
branding through fashion and accessories," Josh Schmidt said in an
Mr. Schmidt said he co-founded Pistil
Point in Oregon and Capital Hemp
in California, which are involved in medicinal cannabis and industrial
hemp, and wants access to those markets in Thailand.
upbeat during a recent cannabis exhibition in Bangkok but
"Due to compliance, there was no showcasing of the actual plant or its
derivatives in any way. It would be nice if the government helps
organizers, through collaborations, to introduce cannabis and hemp to
Daniel Foxman, an American managing director
of Thai Freeze Dry, is
already involved in freeze-drying herbs in and around Thailand's
second biggest city, Chiang Mai, where he lives.
His company, which also
represents California-based Delta Separations,
hopes to include marijuana grown in Thailand.
"Cannabis is one
of the many medicinal herbs we will process," Mr.
Foxman said in an interview.
"Thai Freeze Dry is now well
along in our progress to build a factory
complex that will include three factories -- a much larger freeze-dry
factory, a sprouting facility, and an extraction factory.
"We will sprout hemp seeds and
then freeze-dry the hemp seed sprouts
using 'cellular fraction-line' freeze-drying technology. This may
result in a cannabis product that can be classified as a dietary
supplement or functional food. We will freeze-dry the cannabis roots
which have been used for centuries for pain relief."
Patience and deep pockets are vital.
"We do not see this as a profitable enterprise
for perhaps the next
few years. If you are looking to 'get rich quick,' I don’t think that
the cannabis market in Thailand is your best bet," Mr. Foxman said.
Networking exhibitions in English and Thai have
appeared in spacious
five-star hotel conference rooms and cramped reggae-themed hipster
cafes, where entrepreneurs exchange name cards, boast of their
products' uniqueness, and listen to tutorials about the fast-evolving
Bangkok-based Elevated Estate
has been arranging the most popular
networking and exhibition venues for Thai and international cannabis
businesses, and recently attracted Mr. Schmidt, Mr. Foxman, Mr.
Rockwood and hundreds of others.
Elevated Estate's exhibitions and meetings
provide "anything from
finding information, checking fake news, learning about business
potential, updates on cannabis law, getting assistance, hosting a
business-to-business cannabis expo where businesses can showcase their
products and services, as well as learn from global and local cannabis
experts," Thai founder Chokwan "Kitty" Chopaka said in an interview.
many cannabis-related sectors are open to foreigners, but
"plant touching, especially cannabis production. Thais have a very
strong nationalistic feeling about cannabis, almost as much as land."
meetings also bring in local and foreign
cannabis-linked professionals who discuss the latest technology,
extraction machines, medical breakthroughs, and other hot topics.
Vendors who set up exhibition
booths at Elevated Estate's networking
events have included legal services, investment advisors, agricultural
consultants and, for laid-back consumers, bong cleaners.
Richard S. Ehrlich is a
Bangkok-based journalist from San Francisco,
California, reporting news from Asia since 1978 and winner of Columbia
University's Foreign Correspondent's Award. He co-authored three
non-fiction books about Thailand, including "'Hello My Big Big Honey!'
Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls and Their Revealing Interviews," "60
Stories of Royal Lineage," and "Chronicle of Thailand: Headline News
Since 1946." Mr. Ehrlich also contributed to the chapter "Ceremonies
and Regalia" in a book published in English and Thai titled, "King
Bhumibol Adulyadej, A Life's Work: Thailand's Monarchy in
Perspective." Mr. Ehrlich's newest book, "Sheila Carfenders, Doctor
Mask & President Akimbo" portrays a 22-year-old American female mental
patient who is abducted to Asia by her abusive San Francisco
His online sites are: