It’s a remarkable shift from the country’s bloody war on drugs.
A member of Thailand’s Karen Hill tribe smokes from a tobacco pipe in the Chiang Mai Province. (Photo by Pakin Songmor via Getty images )
On Tuesday, Thailand’s interim cabinet approved the first-ever bill to allow the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. The bill would also decriminalize hemp, kratom and opium for medical research. It will now be forwarded to the National Legislative Assembly for deliberation.
The proposal marks a swift change from Thailand’s bloody war on drugs. Possession of cannabis can currently result in imprisonment for up to 15 years in Thailand.
Government officials last year started the process of rewriting the country’s narcotics law. This prompted supporters to propose business initiatives anticipating cannabis decriminalization, with varying degrees of success.
A plan to build an 800-hectare marijuana plantation in the Salon Nakhon province of Thailand was announced by farmer association chairman Prapat Panyachartraksa. That plan, however, failed to get authorization from the ministry of health.
But the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) has mentioned the possibility of allowing people to grow cannabis for medical use. “Three years from now, we may consider granting people such permission,” said ONCB Secretary-General Sirinya Sitdhichai on Thursday, reports The Nation.
Government Pharmaceutical Organization chairman Dr. Sopon Mekthon said the GPO plans to develop a 1,100 square meter marijuana farm at its Bangkok headquarters. According to Sopon, the GPO also plans to buy a machine to extract cannabis concentrates.
According to the Secretary-General, researchers from Rangsit and Mahidol universities have already sought permission to grow cannabis for medical research. The research would focus on cancer therapies and pain control.
Hoping to accelerate the process of legalization, a Rangsit University research team last month also unveiled a cannabis spray. The spray is said to relieve pain in patients with cancer and multiple sclerosis.
While Thailand is showing promise in the arena of medical cannabis, officials say recreational weed will not be coming to the country anytime soon.