Thailand’s government is currently debating a bill that would legalize medical cannabis, according to a Bloomberg report. Thailand, like many Southeast Asian countries, currently has extremely strict drug trafficking laws. However, as recently as the 1980s, Thailand was one of the world’s foremost cannabis exporters.

Thailand’s government is a military junta, or dictatorship, where civilian political power answers to the military government. In May, the junta gave the go-ahead for medical cannabis research on humans. Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly drafted a bill and is currently debating it. The legislature is expected to give final approval for legalization and enter the bill into law within the next nine months.

Thailand was once a cannabis capital of the world. American G.I.s during the Vietnam War would often take time off in Thailand and partake in cannabis. This influence was one of the many drivers of cannabis culture in the U.S. after the war. After the 1980s, however, Thailand’s military government took a strict stance on drug trafficking and the industry died off. In a resurrection of that history, Thailand hopes to be the first country in Asia to legalize and develop a market for medical cannabis.

“It will be important for new market entrants like Thailand to get established quickly, however, or existing players like Canada and the U.S. will use their historical advantage to capture and dominate the market sector.” — Steve Rolles, Senior Policy Analyst for the UK Transform Drug Policy Foundation, via Bloomberg

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