Thailand becomes first Asian country to legalize medical marijuana

Cannabis buds

Thailand has legalized the cultivation of cannabis for medical use, becoming the first country in Asia to enter a market dominated so far by Canada, Australia and Israel.

The National Assembly, composed of deputies appointed by the ruling junta, approved Tuesday the legalization of marijuana. The law must still be validated by the king before coming into force.

The National Farmers Council of Thailand on Wednesday welcomed the law, which should allow farmers in the very agricultural country, dominated by growing rice and rubber trees (for natural rubber), to diversify. “I expect profits of 100 billion baht a year (or 3 billion dollars) through the cultivation of cannabis, the sale of grass and cannabis oil,” responded Prapat Panyachartrak, president of National Farmers Council, interviewed by Journalists.

The law specifies that this culture would be framed, and the use of cannabis limited to a medical and non-recreational use. Foreign companies and pharmaceutical giants are on the line, to obtain valuable business licenses to develop the sector.

In Thailand, the appetite of international firms raises fears about a possible control of the market by these companies. Marijuana has long been considered a traditional herb in Thailand, before being classified as narcotic in the 1970s.

Cannabis already enters several recipes of traditional medicine and is given to the terminally ill. “I have been using cannabis for 50 years,” said Buntoon Niyamabhra, founder of the Cannabis Users Network in Thailand, which has been in existence since 2013.

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In October, Canada became the second largest country in the world to legalize the possession and consumption of recreational cannabis.

Carl Frantz

Polyglot, humanitarian, Carl was born in Germany but raised in the USA. He writes mostly on tech, science and culture.