The Thai parliament has approved medical use of marijuana. It is the first legalization of the drug in a region with some of the strictest drug laws in the world.
The parliament in Thailand appointed by the junta voted to change the law on narcotics from 1979 to an additional parliamentary session. In that session, a storm flood of bills was handled for the holidays. Thailand had a tradition of using marijuana until the 1930s to alleviate pain and fatigue,
“This is a New Year’s gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people,” said Somchai Sawangkarn, chairman of the legislative committee during a parliamentary session on television.
Some Thai lawyers hope that the approval will pave the way for legalization for recreational use. “This is the first step forward,” says Chokwan Chopaka, an activist at Highland Network, a group fighting for legalization of cannabis in Thailand.
The drug remains illegal and taboo in a large part of Southeast Asia. In Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, marijuana traders can get the death penalty.