BANGKOK: Thailand’s legislature agreed to amend the country’s drug law to allow the licensed medical use of marijuana, as well as kratom, a locally grown plant traditionally used as a stimulant and painkiller.
Thailand is the first country in South-East Asia to take such action, which is also under consideration in neighbouring Malaysia. New Zealand’s government earlier this month enacted a law liberalising the medical use of marijuana, which had previously been tightly restricted.
The Thai legislation passed its final reading at the National Legislative Assembly by a vote of 166-0 with 13 abstentions.
The changes, which become law when published in the Royal Gazette, legalise the production, import, export, possession and use of marijuana and kratom products for medical purposes.
Purveyors, producers and researchers will need licences to handle the drugs, while end users will need prescriptions.
Recreational use of the drugs remains illegal and subject to prison terms and fines commensurate with the quantities involved.
The Bill introducing the legislative changes noted that studies have shown that marijuana extract has medicinal benefits, which has prompted “many countries around the world to ease their laws”. — AP
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