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Thai Approval For Medicinal Marijuana Use

December 2018 saw marijuana being approved by the Thai government for medicinal research and use – the first ever legalization of this drug in part of the world that has some incredibly strict drug laws.

Thailand’s junta-appointed parliament passed a vote to make amendments to the 1979 Narcotic Act during an additional parliamentary session which was held in order to handle a number of rushed bills before commencing the New Year holiday. 

In Thailand, marijuana was regularly used to treat fatigue and pain until a change of law in the 1930s. This latest change has been presented as being a gift for the New Year to the people of Thailand from the country’s National Legislative Assembly. Yet, while medicinal use of cannabis will now be legal, recreational use of the drug will still be outlawed.

A Region Of Harsh Drug Laws

The South East Asian region is known to have among the toughest penalties in the world for possessing or using drugs. Despite the fact that marijuana was once used as a form of traditional medicine in Thailand, these draconian laws have persevered since the 1930s until now, as Thailand becomes the region’s first nation to permit the use of medical marijuana.

Although many countries around the globe including Canada and Colombia have now made medicinal marijuana legal (and some have even legalized its usage for recreational purposes), in the majority of South East Asia, the drug is still taboo and illegal. Those who break the law in this respect face some severe punishments.

A Controlled Licensing Process And Specified Limits

With the change in the law, consumers will not be permitted to carry a specified amount of cannabis for medical purposes, so long as they are in possession of a recognized certificate or medical prescription. There will also be a strictly controlled licensing process for producing and selling medicinal cannabis products. This new law doesn’t only apply to marijuana – it also applies to another Southeast Asian plant known as Kratom which is a known stimulant.

In Thailand, however, there is one primary controversy when it comes to legalization of medicinal cannabis. This involves patent requests from foreign companies which could potentially enable them to come to dominate the Thai marketplace, making it extremely difficult for those Thai patients in need of medicinal marijuana to access the necessary products and for researchers in Thailand to gain access to the marijuana extracts they need. The Rangsit Institute of Intergrative Medicine and Anti-Aging have now put forward their demands that the Thai government revoke all requests from foreign companies before the new law is able to take effect. 

Could Recreational Legalization Be On The Way?

For some Thai activists, this change in the law represents a step forward towards legalization of recreational cannabis use. Whatever the future outcome of the change in legislation, it is clear that, for the people of Thailand, to be allowed to access once more a traditional and medicinal herb which their population had been using responsibly for generations to treat fatigue, pain and other conditions is a winning situation. Those Thai citizens who are  in most need of medicinal cannabis treatments can now access them.


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