Making history as the first country in Southeast Asia to do so, Thailand legalized medical cannabis on December 24, 2018. The amendment was passed by the National Legislative Assembly with a final tally of 166 to zero, and 13 members abstained from the vote.
Somchai Sawangkarn, a lawmaker in Thailand, said the amendment “could be considered as a New Year gift to Thais.”
This came as a surprise to some considering that Thailand has a reputation for having notoriously harsh laws regarding the use, cultivation, production and transportation of any drugs. Once the new law is published in the Royal Gazette, the cultivation, import, export, possession and consumption of cannabis for medical purposes will be legal in the Land of Smiles. Recreational cultivation and possession of cannabis will remain illegal and punishable by time in jail.
Who can buy and sell medical marijuana in Thailand?
Those who want to produce or sell medical marijuana in Thailand will require a license to do so legally. Commercial licenses will only be granted to companies that are two-thirds owned by Thai nationals. Patients who want to use medical marijuana legally will need to first get a prescription from an approved medical doctor or a traditional Thai healer. Patients will not be permitted to grow at home.
Why did Thailand Legalize Medical Marijuana?
This legislative decision to legalize medical marijuana was inspired by anecdotal evidence presented by the people of Thailand who already use cannabis to treat medical conditions, as well as the drug policy reform taking place in other countries throughout the world. The legalization amendment mentioned that scientific research has influenced, “many countries around the world to ease their laws by enacting legal amendments to allow their citizens to legally use kratom and marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes.”
Kratom is a plant, in the coffee family, that is native to Southeast Asia. Like the cannabis plant, kratom also has a bad reputation because it can cause mind altering effects. The effects of kratom vary depending on the strain and quantity consumed. It was outlawed in Thailand in 1943, but Thais continue to use it medicinally as a pain reliever and a stimulant.
This post was originally published on January 5, 2019, it was updated on January 7, 2019.