The National Legislative Assembly in Thailand passed legislation Tuesday to amend the kingdom’s drug laws, making it the first country in Southeast Asia to allow cannabis use for medicinal purposes in many years.
Cannabis was classified as a traditional herb in Thailand until it was criminalized in the 1930s under the Cannabis Act, B.E. 2477 while the country was still known as Siam.
But as cannabis policy reform has been taking place in an increasing number of countries around the world, Thailand has also chosen to pass legislation that is more closely aligned with the views of a majority of its citizens who have indicated their support for medicinal cannabis.
The new legislation passed its final reading in the Assembly on Tuesday with a vote of 166-0 with 13 abstentions.
Under the new law, the production, export, import, possession, and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes will be legal in Thailand, though licenses will be required on the production and distribution side, and patients will need to obtain a prescription from a licensed physician.
Also legalized for medicinal use under the new law is kratom, an evergreen tree in the coffee family which is indigenous to Southeast Asia. Though kratom was traditionally used as medicine, Thailand banned the plant under the Kratom Act, B.E. 2846 in 1946.
Recreational cannabis is still illegal in Thailand and penalties for its production, distribution, sale, and use remain unchanged.
The new amendments will become law once King Maha Vajiralongkorn has approved them and the changes are published in the Royal Gazette.