Thai gov’t approves draft legislation to legalize medical marijuana

Image: Coconuts Media
Image: Coconuts Media

Legalization is so close we can almost smell the medical-grade buds.

At a meeting yesterday, the Thai cabinet approved the draft legislation that would legalize the use of medical marijuana and kratom (another Thai herb with stimulant-like effects that’s becoming popular in the West.)

Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, who chaired the meeting, explained that studies by the Ministry of Health clearly indicate that cannabis is a legitimate treatment for managing symptoms of diseases (and their treatments) like cancer, epilepsy, cystitis, and is effective at managing pain that, in the past, would have required morphine.

The law will now go back to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) in order to move forward.

Government spokesman Puttipong Punnakanta added the cabinet also approved the section on the exportation of marijuana and kratom “for medical purposes only.”

Puttipong said that the Ministry of Public Health along with the Narcotics Control Board would monitor the planting, cultivation, and experimentation of the herbs. In other words, they’ll determine who can grow it and where.

“So this doesn’t mean that anyone can just plant marijuana plants in their backyard,” he emphasized.

While legalization for medical use is being pushed forward, Prawit emphasized that the two herbs will still be considered Category 5 narcotics, however, they will undergo re-evaluation after a five-year test period, reported Bernar News.

Meanwhile, debates over intellectual property rights arose this week, when the Department of Intellectual Property revealed on Monday that a number of foreign companies has attempted to file patent in Thailand on cannabis extracts. (Editor: They did not wait to pounce on that, did they?)

However, Todsapol Tangsuboot, the department’s director-general, said that this cannot be done, since extracts from plants cannot be registered under the Thai Patent Act. That means foreign companies will not be able to  prevent Thai researchers from studying and developing treatment from marijuana, he explained via Thairath.

“Those who are concerned that the legalization [of marijuana] — for purposes of research and medical development in Thailand — will be useless, because foreign companies that are filing patents simply do not understand. Cannabis extracts cannot be registered for patent,” he said.

“But if they [foreign companies] develop cannabis extracts into [specific] medical treatments or new innovations, then they may file a patent. Thai researchers who develop new treatments can also do the same,” he added.

Well, well, well. Guess the government’s aim to legalize medical marijuana by end of year as a “New Year present” for Thais is actually coming into fruition.

Last year, Coconuts TV produced a docu-series – now available exclusively on Netflix – called “HIGHLAND: Thailand’s Marijuana Awakening” on the subject. As we’re moving towards legalizing medical marijuana: here’s a little background on how the marijuana legalization movement got started in thailand.






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