On Tuesday, Thailand’s parliament voted to legalize medical cannabis in the country, according to the BBC.
Southeast Asia is known for some of the harshest drug penalties on the planet. Thailand, however, is the first country in the region to move toward bucking that trend with the approval of medical cannabis. The same law also applies to kratom, another medicinal plant that is often used as an alternative to opiates.
“This is a New Year’s gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people.” — Somchai Sawangkarn, chairman of the legislative committee behind the new law, via the BBC
Under the new law, Thai patients will be allowed to carry quantities of cannabis deemed appropriate for personal use. Production licenses will be regulated closely by the government.
Thailand was once known around the world for having high quality cannabis. Cannabis was also used as traditional medicine in the country until prohibition was instituted during the 1930s.
Under the new medical law, however, penalties still remain high. Those caught selling or growing cannabis without a license will face between five and 15 years in prison and fines of up to 1 million baht, or approximately $30,000.
It’s still unclear when Thailand’s new medical cannabis program will take effect and sales begin.