Thailand says it is seeking to freely allow medical marijuana

Thailand last year became the first South-east Asian nation to allow medical marijuana.
Thailand last year became the first South-east Asian nation to allow medical marijuana.PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG) - Thailand is speeding up legal changes to liberalise its nascent medical marijuana industry, according to the country's health minister.

The changes will allow household cultivation of six cannabis plants to increase supplies for medical products, Mr Anutin Charnvirakul said in a speech in Bangkok late on Wednesday (Nov 13).

The move will also give Thais a crop they can grow to boost their incomes, he said.

"We are in the process of changing laws to freely allow the medical use of marijuana," he said.

"We have high confidence that marijuana will be among the major agricultural products for Thai households. We are speeding up the law changes. But there is a process to it."

Thailand last year became the first South-east Asian nation to allow medical marijuana, stepping up its efforts to become a bigger player in Asia's expanding legal cannabis market.

But other laws on its books still penalise possession of cannabis with long prison terms and big fines, preventing households from growing the crop.

Mr Anutin said legalisation of recreational use is the next step but is unlikely to happen in the four-year term of the current government, which took office in July.

"We need more research and study before we legalise the recreational use of marijuana," he said.

Mr Anutin caused a splash ahead of Thailand's March general election by campaigning for legalisation of household cultivation, and his Bhum Jai Thai party is now part of the ruling coalition.