Cannabis is famed for its medicinal properties that reportedly helps to relieve many sicknesses but yet, it is still classified as an illegal drug in many countries, especially in Asia. However, this may be set to change soon as Thailand could very well be the first Asian country to legalise medical cannabis.
The reason for this proposed legalisation is purely economical, as they want to market it for medical use, Bloomberg reported. Back in the 1980s, Thailand used to be the world’s top exporter of cannabis and now, they want a slice of the marijuana market that is worth billions of dollars.
Medical cannabis is gaining popularity throughout the world and the plant has a history of being used in traditional medicine for distress, nausea and childbirth pain. Farm workers used it to relax and when US soldiers came to Thailand during the Vietnam War; they also used it for recuperation purposes.
Currently, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO), which is under the Ministry of Public Health, is trying to convince the military government to study the drug and sell it for medical purposes. They had previously studied the benefits of cannabis in treating illnesses and found that it helps greatly with three major illnesses including nausea and loss of appetite for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, epilepsy in children and multiple sclerosis.
One of the main reasons that Thailand has decided to explore more on medical marijuana is because the country has the advantage of a consistent tropical climate that is suitable for the growth of the plant. They also have a successful cultivation history that gives it an edge over the competition.
Dr Nopporn Cheanklin, executive managing director of the GPO, said, “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. That’s why we must develop our strain to be able to compete with theirs.”
The cabinet of ministers under the current military government has approved the laws to allow research on medical marijuana on human subjects. It will now be up for debate at the National Legislative Assembly for nine months before it is expected to be passed as law in April 2019. This would make Thailand the first Asian country to legalise medical cannabis and they will be competing in the market led by the US and Canada.
This means that private medical institutions can apply for licenses with the Ministry of Public Health to develop their own experiments using marijuana once the law comes into effect.
However, recreational users, don’t rejoice just yet because there was no mention that they will be legalising cannabis for other purposes. At present, all cannabis still remains illegal and anyone who is caught in possession of cannabis in Thailand could be locked up in jail for up to 15 years as the plant is a category-5 narcotic drug.
Now, do you think Malaysia will follow suit?
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