Thailand becomes the first country to legalize medical marijuana in Southeast Asia.

Recently, Thailand made global headlines by being the first country in South East Asia to legalize medical marijuana. This is especially shocking as the region is infamous for the harsh consequences that are placed on illegal drugs. The New York Times released an article detailing the importance of this event and what it means for the South East Asian country. The following will include a recap of the article in which the key details are highlighted.

The cannabis industry has been taking the world by storm. Last month, the military government in Thailand has officially approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes by a unanimous vote of 166 to 0. This is supposed to take effect next year. Marijuana will only be allowed for consumption under supervision.

Before, Thailand was always a country that doled out harsh penalties to drug users. The current sentence for recreational use is up to five years in prison for possession of 10 kilograms or less. This sentence will continue despite the medical ruling.

In America, things are different. California was the first state in the United States to legalize the use of medical cannabis in 1996. This number has risen to 33 states that legalized marijuana.

In Britain, last month doctors are now allowed to prescribe medical cannabis to patients that display “exceptional need”.

The level of regulation on the cannabis industry depends on the state and country. The definitions may change as to what constitutes appropriate medical conditions to be treated with cannabis. In most states in America and Canada, medical legalization led to the loosening of regulations on recreational consumption.

However, in Southeast Asia, this has not always been the case. Most nations in the area have a standard of little to no tolerance for marijuana consumption. This includes both medical and recreational. In Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, the trafficking of marijuana can land you the death penalty. In Indonesia, an elderly British man was arrested and is facing up to 15 years in jail for using marijuana oil to treat his arthritis. Recently, In Malaysia, an individual was sentenced to death for selling cannabis oil to patients.

Although optimism is high, details are still minimal on how marijuana will be prescribed in Thailand. Individuals will require government authorization to plant or possess the plant. Users will need a medical ID card to possess marijuana. Thailand is still a monarchy, although the government is run by the military regime that took over in 2014. Elections are due this year, and some the New York Times states the timing may have to do with winning support for political parties.

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