Thailand’s parliament has just given the people an early New Year’s gift: legal medical cannabis!
Today, the Thai parliament approved the legalization of cannabis for medical use through a bill amending the Narcotic Act of 1979. This happened after an extra parliamentary session was scheduled to push bills through before the year-end holidays.
The amendment of the Narcotic Act of 1979 will become law as soon as it is published in the government gazette.
According to Somchai Sawangkarn, chair of the drafting committee, the approval of the bill is the National Legislative Assembly’s New Year’s gift to the government and to the people of Thailand.
The first in Southeast Asia!
Thailand used cannabis as part of traditional medicine until it was prohibited in the 1930s.
The country, like the rest of Southeast Asia, has some of the toughest penalties in the world when it comes to penalties for drug-related crimes. But with the NLA passing the bill on second and third readings, Thailand became the first nation in the region to lift its ban on cannabis for medical purposes.
The recreational use of the drug, however, remains illegal.
What the bill encompasses
The amendment to the narcotics law legalizes the possession, production, export, import, and use of cannabis for medical purposes.
The bill was approved with 166 votes in its favor and 13 abstentions. The bill’s final version sees the creation of a larger narcotics control committee with 25 members instead of the usual 17 members.
The law authorizes this committee to approve the possession, production, exportation, and importation of cannabis for the treatment of illnesses, for research and development, for commerce, for agriculture, as well as for science and industry. It also allows the committee to come up with related regulations.
Consumers will be allowed to carry specified amounts of cannabis necessary for treatment provided that they have a prescription or certificate from professionals in medicine, dentistry, alternative or indigenous medicine, and Thai traditional medicine.
A medical cannabis patient will be allowed to possess the drug subject to the conditions approved by the committee.
Licenses for production and sale of cannabis will be granted yet strictly controlled.
The new medical cannabis law also applies to kratom, which is a plant native to Southeast Asia that acts as a stimulant.