Baker McKenzie Bangkok held a seminar "Investment in Medical Cannabis: Thailand Legal Framework, International Experience and Opportunities" on 12 September 2019 at the So Sofitel Bangkok. The seminar provided overviews of Thai and international regulatory and investment landscape on medical cannabis, following key developments both in Thailand, North America and some parts of Europe where the laws are changing rapidly, on both medical and recreational cannabis, pointing towards potential increase in investment opportunities in these areas.

"Amidst these developments, the key issue is an international legal framework on medical cannabis, namely the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1972 Protocol, which has binding effect on state parties and require compliance", said Peerapan Tungsuwan, Corporate and M&A Partner and Head of Healthcare Industry Group at Baker McKenzie in Bangkok. "For Thailand, with the recent legalization of medical cannabis, the topic is still a new one as regulations are still shaping up. However, it cannot be denied that investment opportunities come with such development, either in the short or long run, and this is where we must try to understand the full extent of what is possible now under both international and domestic laws and learn practical issues from other countries with more established regulatory environments and investments in these areas", said Peerapan.

"The cannabis industry offers tremendous opportunities but also presents extremely high legal risks for those who do not fully understand the relevant laws in every jurisdiction in which they operate", said Thomas Firestone, Partner and Co-chair of Baker McKenzie’s North American Government Enforcement Practice. For the US, for example, cannabis is decriminalized or permitted in one form or another by some state laws but not federal law. Due to the uncertainty of the legal regime governing cannabis, proper due diligence of business partners is essential when it comes to complying with state law and minimizing the risks of federal investigation.

Christine Streatfeild, IP/Tech Partner based in Washington DC saw the protection of trade secrets as one of the key concerns that companies wanting to invest in this industry must address, along with the swift movement of employees among competitors. It is important to make protection of trade secrets and IP a corporate culture, from top down.