In a landmark decision, Thailand becomes the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize marijuana for medical use. Thai parliament voted 166-0 to amend the Narcotic Act of 1979 to allow for the medical use of both marijuana and the locally grown herbal supplement known as Kratom.
The move towards legalization is a total reversal of opinion on the topic that directly reflects a shift in attitude towards cannabis use both legally and socially. Since the 1930s, possession and use of maijuana has been illegal with violators facing stiff penalties to include death.
“This is a New Year’s gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and Thai people,” said chairman of the drafting committee, Somchai Sawangkarn.
The reversal in opinion on the use of medical cannabis brings Thailand back in line with policies that existed prior to the 1930s where medical cannabis was widely used and completely legal. Some of the main symptoms that were commonly treated with medical marijuana prior to prohibition include fatigue and pain management.
Alterations to the Narcotics Act will officially become law once they are posted in the Royal Thai Government Gazette. This process was started in early January and was expected to take between 4-6 months to complete.
Those that are looking to benefit from using medical cannabis in Thailand will need a prescription from a local physician. Those that are looking to grow, supply and research medical cannabis will also be required to carry special permits. No word yet on how medical cannabis will be distributed to potential patients.
Medical professionals that will be allowed to import, export, or prescribe medical marijuana include applied Thai medical practitioners, pharmacists, dentists, class one Veterinarians, doctors and medical professionals.
According to cannabis legalization activist Chokwan Chopaka, with Thailand advocacy group Highland Network, “This is the first baby step forward.”
Recreational use of marijuana and Katom will remain illegal.