The southeastern Asian country of Thailand is currently considering medical cannabis legalization. If the country’s government officials proceed with plans to pursue legalization, Thailand would become the first Asian country to allow medical cannabis.
Late last week, a bill to permit the limited consumption of medical cannabis was sent to the military junta’s National Legislative Assembly (NLA), and the first reading is set to take place sometime this month. “We have submitted the bill to the speaker,” Jet Sirathraanon, chairman of the NLA’s standing committee of public health, confirmed to Agence France Presse.
Sirathraanon said that he felt the decision has been long in the making, especially since he and other officials have witnessed how other countries are profiting off the cannabis market. He also praised the cannabis crops that grow in the country, especially the “Golden Triangle” borderlands of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. Thailand was reportedly one of the biggest exporters of cannabis during the 1980s. “The best strains of cannabis in the world 20 years ago were from Thailand, and now Canada has developed this strain until up to this day, we can’t claim that ours is the best in the world anymore,” said Dr. Nopporn Cheanklin, executive managing director of the GPO. “That’s why we must develop our strain to be able to compete with theirs.”
If the bill passes, recreational cannabis would remain illegal. Possession or transportation of less than 10kg of cannabis is punishable by up to five years in prison, but for many, only a fine is imposed. Tourists are still subject to jail time for possession, although reports claim that some police turn a blind eye in exchange for a bribe. “It does seem hypocritical and cynical to be legalizing medical cannabis but maintaining harsh punishments for recreational users,” wrote Transform Drug Policy Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Steve Rolles in an email to Bloomberg. “The punitive model is symptomatic of a wider problem with entrenched prohibitionist thinking; it’s proving hard to shake off despite the obvious cost and evidence of failure.”