A draft bill to legalize medical cannabis in Thailand breezed through a key hurdle in the National Legislative Assembly when 145 lawmakers voted to advance the proposed law.
A vetting committee for the bill has been established, according to Bangkok-based The Nation, and the Assembly will take 60 days to further deliberate the draft.
Some civic organizations have expressed concern that all patent applications submitted to Thailand’s Intellectual Property Department came from non-Thais, the newspaper reported.
There is concern that non-Thai medical marijuana companies could come to dominate the country’s MMJ sector after the law is passed.
Somchai Swangkarn, an influential politician due to his dual role as the military government’s whip in the Assembly and secretary to the whip of the National Legislative Assembly, said authorities are expected to sort out those patent issues.
The draft bill has not yet been made public.
The Southeast Asia nation could be sitting on a $4 billion medical cannabis industry within a decade, according to analysts.
While the region has been a hotbed of activity around medical marijuana recently, Thailand could be the first Southeast Asia country to establish a legal framework for medical marijuana.
South Korea’s National Assembly recently approved changes to its Act on the Management of Narcotic Drug to allow certain cannabis prescriptions.
In addition, Malaysia opened the door to the possibility that it could one day legalize medical cannabis, although any concrete moves in that direction are probably years away.