Given that Marijuana is used in many countries all over the world for recreational reasons, despite being illegal in most states, Thailand’s decision to make cannabis legal for medical purposes has raised eyebrows. The new law has not come unreservedly; the public has been clearly reminded that if anyone uses this drug for general engagements, the law will still strike
them because this remains illegal.
The newly passed bill is clear on how Marijuana will be used within the scope of the law. These uses will include research and scientific endeavours, export and sales, and most importantly, patient treatment. Although the changes await the pending royal approval, which is to take place next year, patients who are registered will be allowed to possess a certain amount of cannabis on a prescription.
A recognised Thai traditional medical practitioner, dentists and doctors will also be allowed to issue certificates which will enable their patients to use the drug legally. However, the professionals will be required to first seek compliance by obtaining a licence from the Thailand Food and Drug Administrations. The licenses will be issued to the medical practitioners. The sale
and production of the plant, import and export will be under the scrutiny and regulation of a government committee.
Niyada Kiatying-Angsulee, who is the manager of the Drug System and Monitoring centre said that more information in regards to the acquisition of these licences is still unclear. She further mentioned that the law does not specify the diseases that cannabis should be prescribed for.
According to Niyada, the legal framework surrounding the legalisation of marijuana is still wanting. Not unless distinct measures regarding control of the legal use of the newly legalised drug are introduced, there are chances that marijuana will end up in the black market. Cannabis was banned in Thailand in the 1930s. Prior to the ban, people had used it for more than
300 years in the form of medicine and food. Full-scale legalisation of marijuana is still a distant dream, even with the recent promising developments.
Chokwan Kitty Chopaka, the spokesperson of Highland Network, which is a marijuana advocacy group noted that there has been a decline in the prices of cash crops in the country. This fall might have influenced the government's
decision to legalise cannabis for medical use.
Forecasts show that the marijuana industry will have grown to reach 146 billion US dollars in the next 6 years. Thailand's government may be looking to cash in on the prospects of this drug, hence the legalisation efforts. Legalising cannabis for recreational and other uses is becoming popular. In fact, the state of California and Canada have already made the drug legal.
Chokwan Kitty observed that since Thailand has always been an agricultural country involved in cash crop farming, they now need a crop that can make them money by selling at a higher rate, unlike sugar and rice. The new legislation on marijuana will encourage medical tourism, a sector that the Thailand government has an interest in. However, every new industry has its own
There are emerging patent applications in Thailand from foreign firms seeking to claim rights on some cannabis extract. This is raising questions from the agriculture experts in Thailand. The director of Biodiversity and Sustainable of Agricultural Food Sovereignty Action, Mr Witoon Liamchamroon, advised the government not to approve these patent applications from foreign
firms. He gave this advice out of fear that the benefits of legalising marijuana might curtail local businesses in favour of foreign companies.
Witoon pointed out that the existing Thailand law does not support intellectual property patents on products extracted from plants. If the patents are given, the benefits from this plant will be taken away by big firms. Thai farmers might end up discouraged from not only using but making their own original medications from cannabis.
With this new piece of legislation on marijuana in Thailand, people ought not to be confused about what they can do with this drug. No one has the leeway to plant cannabis on any land without a license. If you are caught doing so, it will be considered a breach of the law which is punishable by jail term in a court. Undoubtedly, this drug can help people who may find it hard to afford through the right channels. Unfortunately, the right procedures of acquiring and using it will have to be adhered to.