On Friday, Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly proposed amendments to the Health Ministry that would legalize both medical cannabis and Kratom for possession and distribution, according to the Washington Post.
The Health Ministry will now review the proposed amendments and forward them to the Cabinet. After revisions, the Cabinet will send a final version of the legislation back to the Legislative Assembly for a vote. If successful, Thailand would be the first Asian country to legalize medical cannabis.
The proposal allows for licensed and regulated medical cannabis operations, but not adult-use. Public hearings earlier this year showed strong support for using cannabis as medicine from Thailand’s general public.
“If we let it be used recreationally, our society is not ready yet, so I want to do this first step first — the issue of making medicine. From allowing the making of medicine, maybe in six months or a year’s time, if society is ready, it could become a food supplement,” said Somchai Sawangkarn, the lawmaker who proposed the amendments. “Eventually that could lead us to its recreational use.”
Somchai Sawangkarn said the legislation’s greatest obstacle is Big Pharma.
“I’ve been working on legislation in Parliament for the past 12 years, and I have to admit that this has been one of the toughest ones to pass because it affects the benefits of large transnational pharmaceutical companies as they sell chemotherapy, morphine, and so on, and we want to introduce something really cheap as an alternative.” — Somchai Sawangkarn, in the report
Some still hold reservations to the legislation due to child consumption worries and the difficulty of protecting small Thai businesses who want to participate in teh market.
The legislative process is expected to produce final medical cannabis legislation that will be voted on in the National Assembly by the end of the year.