Thailand Becomes First Country in Asia to Decriminalize Marijuana

By: Jovillene Datu

Thailand has officially become the first Asian country to legalize marijuana. This new rule will take effect after the Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, formally signs the documents. Once he publishes the rule in the official Royal Gazette, residents will be allowed to plant cannabis in their homes.

Marijuana has been illegal all over Asia for many years. Countries such as Japan and China have forbidden the substance because of their history with illegal drug trafficking. They say that their culture’s legacy is emphasized in education, leading to a very strong conservative bias against the proliferation of drugs of any form. 

Originally, the rule was implemented at the end of December 2021, however lawyers and law enforcement said it is “unclear” if processing marijuana would still be considered an offense that could lead to imprisonment. Charnivirdul (minister of public health) said that the reason for Thailand’s ‘Food and Drug Administration’  removing cannabis from the illegal drugs list was a response to the “government’s urgency policy in developing marijuana and hemp for medical and health care benefits, developing technology and creating income for the public.” 

Although the commercial use of cannabis is still in the gray area in Thailand, Charnivirdul said that a separate draft will be submitted to parliament to clarify the legal status of cannabis in the country the week of February 1st, 2022. The leader of the nation’s Bhumjai Thai Party, reportedly was the person who helped push for the decriminalization of cannabis, as well as helped campaign in 2019 for the legalization of marijuana productions to help farmers grow.

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