Thai­land pro­poses le­gal med­i­cal pot

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NEWS -

BANGKOK — Thai­land’s leg­is­la­ture has of­fi­cially pro­posed al­low­ing the li­censed med­i­cal use of mar­i­juana, mak­ing it a po­ten­tial trail­blazer in Asia in le­gal­iz­ing what used to be re­garded strictly as a dan­ger­ous drug.

The Na­tional Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly on Fri­day sub­mit­ted pro­posed amend­ments to the Health Min­istry that would put mar­i­juana and the plant kratom, pop­u­lar lo­cally as a stim­u­lant and painkiller, into a le­gal cat­e­gory that would al­low their li­censed pos­ses­sion and dis­tri­bu­tion un­der reg­u­lated con­di­tions. The min­istry will re­view the amend­ments be­fore for­ward­ing them to the Cab­i­net, which will re­turn it to the leg­is­la­ture for a ver­sion that will then be voted on. The process may be com­pleted be­fore the end of the year.

The pro­posed changes would not al­low recre­ational use of the drugs. The ac­tion was taken be­cause of grow­ing in­ter­est in the use of mar­i­juana and its com­po­nents to treat some med­i­cal con­di­tions. Pub­lic hear­ings showed over­whelm­ing sup­port for the mea­sures.

“If we let it be used recre­ation­ally, our so­ci­ety is not ready yet, so I want to do this first step first — the is­sue of mak­ing medicine,” said Som­chai Sawangkarn, a law­maker who pro­posed the amend­ments. “From al­low­ing the mak­ing of medicine, maybe in six months or a year’s time, if so­ci­ety is ready, it could be­come a food sup­ple­ment. … And even­tu­ally that could lead us to its recre­ational use.”

Som­chai said the leg­is­la­ture would con­sider in­tro­duc­ing fur­ther amend­ments to ad­dress con­cerns such as fears that mar­i­juana would be too ac­ces­si­ble to chil­dren or reser­va­tions that only some large pri­vate com­pa­nies would po­ten­tially be granted li­censes to pro­duce medicine de­rived from the plant.

The leg­is­la­ture says re­cent stud­ies have shown that mar­i­juana ex­tract has medic­i­nal ben­e­fits, which has prompted “many coun­tries around the world to ease their laws by en­act­ing le­gal amend­ments to al­low their cit­i­zens to legally use kratom and mar­i­juana for medic­i­nal or recre­ational pur­poses.” It adds that de­spite be­ing clas­si­fied as an il­le­gal drug, many pa­tients have used mar­i­juana to treat their dis­eases.

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