Marijuana is illegal and taboo across much of Southeast Asia, where countries have some of the world’s harshest punishments for drug law violations, but now Thailand approved it for medical use and research.
The National Legislative Assembly's 166 members voted in favor of the change and there were no votes objecting to the motion. There were 13 members who abstained from the vote. “This is a New Year’s gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people,” said Somchai Sawangkarn, chairperson. The amendment (on the Narcotics Bill) will become effective once it is published on the Royal Gazette.
“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. There is a hope that in the future recreational use of the drug could also be approved. In the Unites States, medical marijuana is legal in 30 states, though the laws governing what's permitted vary from state to state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Marijuana traffickers can be subject to the death penalty in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.