From Colombia to Canada, many countries are embracing the legalization of Marijuana for both medical and recreational use. The most recent country to join this trend in Thailand. In December 2018, the Thailand government approved Medical Marijuana for medical use and research. This makes it the first country to legalize any form of marijuana use in Southeast Asia.
The first legalization of marijuana in a country with one of the strictest drug laws. This happened during an extra parliamentary session to handle bills before 2019, where Thailand voted to amend its Narcotics Act of 1979
The chairman of the drafting committee, Somchai Sawangkarn termed it as a New Year’s gift to the people of Thailand and the government from the National Legislative Assembly. He said this during the televised parliamentary session.
Marijuana in Southeast Asia
Many countries in Southeast Asia have very harsh punishments when it comes to violations of drug laws. Despite the fact that Marijuana was used in Thailand in the 1930s for pain relief and fatigue, its use is still considered a taboo in most parts of Southeast Asia.
The penalties in countries like Malaysia and Singapore include the death penalty for Marijuana traffickers.
The main concern with legalization in Thailand is the foreign companies request for patents that may lead to their domination of the market. These foreign companies would make it harder for researchers to access extracts or for Thai patients to access medicine.
However, The Dean of the Rangsit Institute of Integrative Medicine and Anti-Aging reassured that they were going to demand the revocation of these requests before the law takes effect.
Chokwan Choopka, an activist with the Highland Network which advocates for the legalization of cannabis in Thailand believes that this is a first baby step towards the legalization of cannabis for recreational use.