Thailand’s Bhumjaithai Party has announced that it will be proposing a bill that will allow the country’s households to grow up to six cannabis plants. Thailand has a long tradition of using cannabis and the kratom plant for wellness purposes. It was the first Southeastern Asian country to regulate medicinal cannabis in 2018, when a law was passed unanimously in favor of the policy change.
“The principle is for medical use,” said Bhumjaithai Party official Supachai Jaisamut. “You can have it at home for ailments, but not smoke it on the street.” Jaisamut estimated that the law could come to a vote in the next six months.
Such a bill would break the current monopoly held by the Thai government on marijuana production, and empower doctors outside of governmental hospitals to treat patients with their own supply.
The legislation would also establish a governmental agency called the Plant-Based Drug Institute, which would be authorized to buy, extract, and export CBD. That organization would also be in charge of overseeing the sale of marijuana plants, which is being seen as a boon to Thailand’s developing medical cannabis industry.
Thailand’s government does seem committed to supporting its medical marijuana producers and users. In August, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization announced plans to distribute 10,000 bottles of medical cannabis oil via its Ministry of Public Health. The oil is intended to reach patients with epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, chronic pain, and chemotherapy-related nausea.
Last year, the country’s first marijuana clinic opened its doors in the Chaophraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital, located northeast of Bangkok in a city named Prachinburi. Treatment there was guaranteed for patients with Parkinson’s and epilepsy, and other health conditions were eligible for consideration by hospital staff. Initially, the clinic depended on cannabis supply from governmental agencies. In August, it produced its first batch of low-THC CBD oil.
Thailand has a rich history of using cannabis medicinally, although it continues to be subject to strict laws. Should the Bhumjaithai law pass, it would drastically change the country’s legal approach to recreational marijuana usage, which currently carries a penalty of up to 10 years of incarceration and expensive fines.
But unlike many countries, Thailand is unwilling to let foreign investment drive the development of its medical industry. No outside companies will be allowed to sell cannabis oil in Thailand for the next five years.
The Bhumjaithai Party is part of a coalition of 19 political parties that is led by the country’s prime minister, General Prayuth Chan-o-cha. Its party leader Anutin Charnvirakul, who is also the deputy prime minister and public health minister, has established that access to cannabis is one of its central goals.
Though Thailand was the first country in its region to consider marijuana legalization, it may not be the last. In Malaysia, where drug charges were punishable by the death penalty as recently as 2018, the government is reportedly in talks to regulate medicinal cannabis as well.