Thailand legalises medical use of marijuana, a first in Southeast Asia

Thailand Legalises Medical Use Of Marijuana, A First In Southeast AsiaThailand has become the first country in Southeast Asia to approve legal use of marijuana by amending the country’s drug law to allow the substance, as well as kratom, a locally grown plant traditionally used as a stimulant and painkiller.

The legislation passed its final reading at the National Legislative Assembly by a vote of 166-0 with 13 abstentions.

The changes legalise the production, import, export, possession and use of marijuana and kratom products for medical purposes.

“This is a New Year’s gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people,” said Somchai Sawangkarn, chairman of the drafting committee, in a televised parliamentary session.

However, recreational use of the drugs remains illegal and subject to prison terms and fines commensurate with the quantities involved. Relevant authorities will also strictly control cannabis farming and destroy excess output from farmers who will be trained in growing the crop.

But it wouldn’t be Thailand if there was something seemingly dodgy in the legislation process.

Civic organisations cried foul after discovering that all marijuana-related patent applications filed with the Intellectual Property Department, so far, had come from foreigners and are wondering whether the push for legalisation of medical marijuana was intended to grant monopolies to pharmaceutical companies from abroad – which are already producing marijuana-based drugs – and whether tea money was involved here.

Thais have not yet had an opportunity to seek patents, because cannabis continues being classified as an illegal drug. This makes it harder for Thai patients to access medicines and for Thai researchers to access marijuana extracts.

Meanwhile, Malaysia is considering a similar law amendment for medical marijuana although traffickers still can be subject to the death penalty in the country.

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Thailand has become the first country in Southeast Asia to approve legal use of marijuana by amending the country’s drug law to allow the substance, as well as kratom, a locally grown plant traditionally used as a stimulant and painkiller. The legislation passed its final reading at the National Legislative Assembly by a vote of 166-0 with 13 abstentions. The changes legalise the production, import, export, possession and use of marijuana and kratom products for medical purposes. “This is a New Year's gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people,” said Somchai Sawangkarn, chairman of...

Thailand Legalises Medical Use Of Marijuana, A First In Southeast AsiaThailand has become the first country in Southeast Asia to approve legal use of marijuana by amending the country’s drug law to allow the substance, as well as kratom, a locally grown plant traditionally used as a stimulant and painkiller.

The legislation passed its final reading at the National Legislative Assembly by a vote of 166-0 with 13 abstentions.

The changes legalise the production, import, export, possession and use of marijuana and kratom products for medical purposes.

“This is a New Year’s gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people,” said Somchai Sawangkarn, chairman of the drafting committee, in a televised parliamentary session.

However, recreational use of the drugs remains illegal and subject to prison terms and fines commensurate with the quantities involved. Relevant authorities will also strictly control cannabis farming and destroy excess output from farmers who will be trained in growing the crop.

But it wouldn’t be Thailand if there was something seemingly dodgy in the legislation process.

Civic organisations cried foul after discovering that all marijuana-related patent applications filed with the Intellectual Property Department, so far, had come from foreigners and are wondering whether the push for legalisation of medical marijuana was intended to grant monopolies to pharmaceutical companies from abroad – which are already producing marijuana-based drugs – and whether tea money was involved here.

Thais have not yet had an opportunity to seek patents, because cannabis continues being classified as an illegal drug. This makes it harder for Thai patients to access medicines and for Thai researchers to access marijuana extracts.

Meanwhile, Malaysia is considering a similar law amendment for medical marijuana although traffickers still can be subject to the death penalty in the country.

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