Thailand has become the first nation in Southeast Asia to legalize medical marijuana.
In a unanimous 166-0 vote on Christmas Day, parliament officially amended the kingdom’s 1979 Narcotic Act, which currently criminalizes all usage and possession of marijuana and kratom, (another local herb with stimulant-like effects.)
The Department of Public Health has now been assigned the task of hammering out the details, and the law is expected to come into effect within 60 days, Thairath reported.
Lawmaker Somchai Sawangkan, the amendment’s primary backer, said he considers the approval a New Year’s gift to Thai citizens.
“The parliament wanted to take action so that it becomes a New Year’s gift to Thai citizens. Previously, we have been in contact with families of cancer patients, because this law will be useful to them,” Somchai told reporters.
The law calls for the legal use of marijuana and kratom for medical and research purposes, and the production, importation, exportation, and possession of the plants will be strictly under supervision of the Narcotics Control Board.
The possession of marijuana for purposes other than the strict limits outlined under the law remains liable to legal action, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Medical marijuana has also been a hot topic of late in the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte has been on record as a supporter of legalization and a presidential spokesman recently said he would sign “any bill” consistent with that stand.
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.