Thailand approves medical marijuana in New Year's 'gift'


  • World
  • Tuesday, 25 Dec 2018

A Thai activist with a marijuana tattoo on his face gathers with others during a campaign for the legalisation of medical marijuana near Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Panumas Sanguanwong/File Photo

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand approved marijuana for medical use and research on Tuesday, the first legalisation of the drug in a region with some of the world's strictest drug laws.

The junta-appointed parliament in Thailand, a country which until the 1930s had a tradition of using marijuana to relieve pain and fatigue, voted to amend the Narcotic Act of 1979 in an extra parliamentary session handling a rush of bills before the New Year's holidays.

"This is a New Year's gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people," said Somchai Sawangkarn, chairman of the drafting committee, in a televised parliamentary session.

While countries from Colombia to Canada have legalised marijuana for medical or even recreational use, the drug remains illegal and taboo across much of Southeast Asia, which has some of the world's harshest punishments for drug law violations.

Marijuana traffickers can be subject to the death penalty in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

But in Thailand, the main controversy with legalisation involved patent requests by foreign firms that could allow them to dominate the market, making it harder for Thai patients to access medicines and for Thai researchers to access marijuana extracts.

"We're going to demand that the government revoke all these requests before the law takes effect," said Panthep Puapongpan, Dean of the Rangsit Institute of Integrative Medicine and Anti-Aging.

Some Thai advocates hope that Tuesday's approval will pave the way for legalisation for recreational use.

"This is the first baby step forward," said Chokwan Chopaka, an activist with Highland Network, a cannabis legalisation advocacy group in Thailand.

(Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!
   

Next In World

Modi's party set to lose power in crucial Indian state after alliance setback
Loud explosions heard near Russian military airbase in Crimea - witnesses
Turkey's new drill ship to operate outside disputed waters in Mediterranean
Agency donates breathing devices for premature babies to Ukraine
Nigeria arrests suspects in Catholic church massacre -local TV
Tourist boats marooned, farm land parched as drought lowers Europe's rivers
Problems remain with Kaliningrad transit despite EU deal - Russia
UK's Liz Truss still favours tax cuts over direct support on energy bills
Pope concerned for Amazon and indigenous peoples, says its first cardinal
Russia suspends oil exports via southern leg of Druzhba pipeline due to transit payment issues

Others Also Read