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Thailand Legalizes Medical Weed: What's Next?

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Thailand Legalizes Medical Weed: What's Next?

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn signed into law a bill legalizing medical use of cannabis earlier this week. The move comes two months after the country's legislature approved the necessary amendments.

What Happened

In November, the Thai National Legislative Assembly submitted a number of amendments to the Health Ministry that would legalize marijuana and a local plant, kratom, for medical use. Over the following month, the ministry reviewed the proposal and sent it to the cabinet, which then returned it to the Assembly for a vote. 

With the signing of the law by the king, medical marijuana is now legal in Thailand. The government is expected to put in place a system under which patients will be able to receive prescriptions for marijuana and kratom, a plant known for its analgesic properties. 

Why It's Important

At one point, Thailand was a cannabis power in the region, and the legalization of medical use could be a first step for the country to become a major exporter of marijuana.

What's Next

At the beginning, it's expected that Thailand will import marijuana until growing and processing facilities can be established in the country. No major producers in countries that allow exports — like Canada, Australia, Colombia and Israel — have revealed plans or discussions over supply agreements.

Several years ago, GW Pharmaceuticals plc (ADR) (NASDAQ: GWPH) and Japan-based Otsuka Pharmaceutical applied for patents on CBD and THC in Thailand, sparking outrage among activists, who accused them of attempting to violate local intellectual property law and potentially making it more difficult for patients to access to cannabis.

A report by Voice of America earlier this year said the patent applications are still pending. 

Related Links:

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