THIALAND’S Public Health Ministry has rolled out plans to make the medical use of marijuana legal by next month, as the kingdom looks to cash in on a multi-billion dollar industry.
If the government pulls through with the plan, Thailand will be joining several other countries to legalise medicinal cannabis, including Canada, Australia, Israel, and more than half the states in the US.
The legalisation of cannabis extracts and oil for medical purposes will become legal, just like morphine, once Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn endorses the new announcement prepared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as early as Nov 9, according to The Nation.
“We will ask him to sign the announcement at the upcoming Narcotics Control Board’s meeting,” FDA secretary-general Tares Krassanairawiwong was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
Tares said the FDA, in its draft of the announcement, had proposed reclassifying the status of marijuana as from a completely prohibited item in the country.
The FDA’s decision, he said, came to the conclusion after conducting an extensive study from the academic and legal perspective.
“We need to remove legal blocks so marijuana can be used for the benefits of patients,” Piyasakol said.
If medical marijuana is legalised in the country, Thailand would be the first Asian nation to do so, tapping into a market that US-based Grand View Research has estimated could reach US$55.8 billion by 2025, according to the AFP.
Thailand’s military junta, also known as the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), has received a draft bill to permit its limited use.
“We have submitted the bill to the speaker,” Jet Sirathraanon, chairman of the NLA’s standing committee of public health, said.
Jet added the bill will have its first reading in the junta’s rubber-stamp parliament in less than one month.
However, the government insists that the drug was for medication only and not for recreation.
Thailand imposes strict penalties for drug trafficking, but despite tough laws and enforcement, the country remains a key regional transit hub and producer of illicit narcotics.
Jet said Thailand has held back from legalising the drug for far too long while other countries like Australia and Canada have seized the opportunity while approving exports.
He pointed out that the legalisation could help generate income for the country, apart from the benefits for patients in need of the drug.
Jet also said Thailand’s marijuana is praised by many users, with the plant thriving in the notorious Golden Triangle of Thailand, Laos and Burma, which habours one of the world’s busiest drug trade routes.
“I’m doing this because it’s an opportunity for Thai people,” he said.
“Thailand has the best marijuana in the world.”