Thailand’s parliament is pushing ahead to enact a comprehensive law to administer the use of cannabis for medical and research reasons, a booming industry anticipated to be worth up to US$1.2 billion in the upcoming years. The move comes over a year after the country decriminalized the plant, setting a precedent in Southeast Asia.

In the aftermath of decriminalisation, cannabis businesses quickly flourished across the country’s capital city, Bangkok, as well as tourist hotspots like the resort island of Phuket. Nonetheless, without specific regulations in place, the government felt the urgency to enforce rules to protect against unrestricted use, especially amongst minors.

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“The law will be unequivocally – for medical purposes and research,” stated Saritpong Kiewkong, a member of the Bhumjaithai party. This party is credited with spearheading the decriminalization campaign and currently holds the position of the secondlargest faction within Thailand’s 11-party coalition government.

The lawmaker further clarified during a parliamentary briefing that the nation is “not considering a policy for recreational use” at this point. The main objectives of the proposed draft law include consolidating the measures against public use that are currently depended on by the government to control misuse.

The new legislation, expected to be concluded and passed within a year, outlines guidelines for obtaining permits for cultivating the plant, sales and distribution. Furthermore, it contains stricter stipulations against the sale of cannabis in sensitive areas such as temples, schools, and amusement parks.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin previously voiced his support for the use of cannabis, albeit only for medical purposes, as opposed to recreational use. This approach seems to align with the overarching policy direction outlined by the new draft law.

While discussions regarding the recreational use of cannabis are currently off the table, it is clear that the government recognizes the growing and potentially lucrative market that cannabis presents. By comprehensive regulation, they hope to tap into this potential while safeguarding public health and societal order. Therefore, the introduction of this law signifies a balanced and forward-looking way to address modern trends in public health and economics.

As a disclaimer, the opinions expressed in this article don’t reflect those of High Thailand.

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