Thailand To Review Medical Marijuana, Kratom Legalization Proposal

By Paul Gaita 12/07/18

The kratom/marijuana legalization bill has received substantial support from the National Legislative Assembly and the Thai public. 

In Thailand where lawmakers are set to review a proposal to legalize kratom and marijuana

Lawmakers in Thailand have unanimously accepted an initiative to review a bill that would legalize the production, import and export of marijuana and the herbal supplement kratom for medical use.

The amendment, proposed by members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), would revise the country's Narcotics Act and allow patients to access medical marijuana and kratom for therapy and grant access to the Red Cross and medical professionals. The initiative must go before another panel of lawmakers for review, but support for legalization has already netted widespread approval among the Thai population, according to the NLA's digital forum.

The amendment bill, proposed by 44 members of the NLA, provides guidelines for medical use of marijuana and kratom, which under the current Narcotics Acts are listed as Category V drugs and illegal to consume, possess, produce, distribute, import and export, with imprisonment and/or substantial financial penalties levied against those convicted of such charges.

As High Times noted, marijuana and kratom would be made available to approved patients as treatment and could be obtained from the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, the Red Cross, local administrative agencies, and medical professionals and ministries. Individuals who have a record of previous narcotics-related charges may not partake in the program, according to the Bangkok Post. Production sites and grow programs would be overseen by Thailand's public health minister and the Office of the Narcotics Board.

The amendment bill has to date received substantial support from the NLA and the Thai public. An initial read received 145 votes of support from NLA members while a public hearing on the NLA's digital platform saw 99.03% of participants approve the bill's provisions. Health care professionals and legal academics have also lobbied in support of revising the Narcotics Act in favor of providing Thai citizens with the alleged medical benefits of both substances.

"The Narcotics Act was drafted and first enforced in 1985, so we can see it's not only out of date, but also restricts people's rights too much, especially considering the enormous benefits in healthcare that could come from medical cannabis and kratom," said Paisal Limstit of Thammasat University's Faculty of Law.  

The NLA must now establish a 29-member panel to review the bill; the process, according to the Bangkok Post, takes approximately 60 days.

Should the bill pass into law, the Thai government will face an uphill battle with the marijuana that is currently available in the country. Laboratory tests on marijuana seized by police revealed the presence of pesticides and heavy metals, which the Department of Medical Sciences determined was not suitable for consumption, medical or otherwise.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.