BANGKOK (AP) – One of Thailand’s leading fast food chains promoted their “Crazy Happy Pizza” this month, an under-the-radar product topped with a cannabis leaf. It’s legal but won’t get you high.
Backpacker trail veterans familiar with the legendary pizzerias in neighboring Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, which offer potent marijuana as an optional condiment, might feel downright cheated.
“Of course, they can’t get high,” Panusak Suensatboon, managing director of The Pizza Company, said in an interview this week. “It’s just a marketing campaign. and you can taste the cannabis and then if you get enough of it you might get a little sleepy.
Crazy Happy Pizza is a mix of toppings reminiscent of the flavors of Thailand’s famous Tom Yum Gai soup with a fried cannabis leaf on top. Cannabis is also infused into the cheese crust and there is chopped cannabis in the dip. A 9-inch pie costs 499 baht (about $ 15). Customers preferring a do-it-yourself strain can choose their own toppings, with an additional 100 baht ($ 3) for two or three cannabis leaves.
The cannabis plant has been used for two main purposes: as hemp for making ropes and clothing, and as an intoxicating drug, known as pot, ganja, and dagga.
In recent years, a sort of intermediary has emerged: cannabidiol, or CBD, a chemical found in cannabis that can be turned into what is touted as a universal remedy. CBD can be separated from tetrahydrocannabinol – THC – the chemical in cannabis that produces the high in marijuana.
CBD has legitimized cannabis products, taking inspiration from the mystique of marijuana without flouting the law or raising major health issues. It has become a booming industry, especially in the United States.
Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Thailand and can earn you a fine and jail time, even though drug laws have been liberalized in recent years. Cannabis is regulated for medicinal purposes and individuals are permitted to cultivate a small number of plants for their own consumption.
Last December, Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia to remove specific parts and extracts of cannabis from its list of controlled narcotics and, in February of this year, authorized their use in food and the drinks. The amount of THC in the CBD product should not exceed 0.2% of its total weight, virtually eliminating any possibility of high.
Cannabis products even before being decriminalized had become a cottage industry in Thailand, but their adoption by The Pizza Company – operated by Minor Food Group, a subsidiary of Minor International listed on the Thailand Stock Exchange – propelled them into the big business. . time.
Crazy Happy Pizza is available at all of The Pizza Company’s branches in Thailand, but sales have been poor, according to Panusak. It has faced several disabilities – it cannot be legally advertised or sold to anyone under the age of 12. He estimates that when the company ends its sales promotion on Tuesday, it will have to throw away about a fifth of the cannabis leaves it has acquired. .
“I don’t think the market is ready yet for cannabis products. We knew that from the start, ”said Panusak. “We just wanted to be the first to bring something new and innovative to the market. He cited durian pizza, incorporating the exotic and expensive tropical Asian fruit known for its pungent smell, as another example of his company’s innovations.
“We’re trying to get new ingredients, whatever is trendy, and we use it and we want people to talk about it,” he said.
Associate Professor Wilert Puriwat, Dean of Chulalongkorn Business School in Bangkok, believes that using cannabis for marketing purposes can be effective at first, but business owners need strategies to make it work in the first place. long term.
“In general, people who try it won’t expect to get high,” he said. “They just want to stay trendy and take photos to post on their social media to show that they’ve tried something that was once illegal.”
He said cannabis has an emotional value that builds on the core value of a product. “When people walk into your restaurant, they should come for your food and service, not for the cannabis. “