Thailand legalizes marijuana for medical use, research

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Just one month after a proposed law breezed through a key hurdle, Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly voted 166-0 (with 13 abstentions) to allow medical marijuana and cannabis research.

The move came as a year-end surprise because the Assembly was expected to take 60 days to deliberate the draft.

The Southeast Asia nation could be sitting on a $4 billion medical cannabis industry within a decade, according to analysts.

Concern that non-Thai medical marijuana companies could come to dominate the country’s MMJ sector still needs to be addressed, as several patent requests from foreign entities have already been filed.

“We’re going to demand that the government revoke all these requests before the law takes effect,” said Panthep Puapongpan, dean of the Rangsit Institute of Integrative Medicine and Anti-Aging, told Reuters.

Recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in Thailand.