If Thailand legalizes cannabis, the entire world is likely to follow. Why is that you may ask?

Well, while many people believe that the penalties of cannabis in the United States are harsh, they are nothing in comparison to the punishment for illegal cannabis cultivation, possession, or consumption in Asia.

Here are some facts and stats that put it into perspective.

  • Thailand has the 6th largest prison population in the world, and the largest in SE Asia.
  • 15 years ago the country initiated a war on drugs that left several cannabis dealers dead.
  • Crackdowns on drugs including cannabis in the Philippines has left more than 12,000 deceased.
  • Recently in Malaysia a 29-year old male was sentenced to be hung to death after being convicted of selling cannabis oil for medical use on Facebook. Luckily this is under review.
  • In Indonesia the policies have been stricter and enforced heavily by Duterte since taking office. This has resulted in more than 100 suspected dealers being killed, some of which had as little as just 10 grams of cannabis in their possession.

Like Somyot stated in a recent interview with VICE, " if you can move Thailand, you can move the whole region, and the whole world.”

Somyot is a doctor for a Thailand government institution. He is also the author of the publication titled "Marijuana is Medicine That Cures Cancer."

As you can imagine, based on his career position, he saw a rise in his profile among the Thailand medical community.

Researchers in Thailand found great solace in speaking with Dr. Somyot regarding advocating for reform in current cannabis laws within Thailand.

Times are Changing in Thailand

It has been an annual occurrence in Thailand for police to burn cannabis along with other drugs that they took possession of throughout the year from drug busts in a massive bonfire.

This year though, instead of sending it up in smoke, Thai police released more than 100 kilograms of cannabis to researchers looking to study the medical efficiencies of cannabis for different ailments, diseases, and conditions.

When asked to speak about the differences in cannabis in Thailand today in comparison to the past, Dr. Somyot stated the following;

”I've seen doctors, a judge, and even high-level [government] ministers use cannabis oil to treat cancer. It's soldiers, police, and many, many more. I think in every occupation you can imagine, you'll find people using cannabis oil in Thailand as a treatment of their cancer.”

Like in the U.S. one of the biggest obstacles to combatting the claim that research is needed by politicians and health officials in Thailand lies within the prohibition against the plant which makes it nearly impossible to study or research.

According to Dr. Niyada Kiatying-Angsulee, from the Social Research Institute at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok;

"Use in human subjects is not allowed. It is not possible to test in humans, the penalties for breaking the law by growing or consuming cannabis are high. Physicians are not allowed to prescribe cannabis by the current law. Since we realized the medical benefits of cannabis, from literature reviews, laws from other countries, and as some pharmaceutical products that are already registered in some countries, we all advocate for using it in medical aspects."

Public Sentiment Could Play Vital Role and Support is High

The National Institute of Development Administration in a recent poll ” found that 72.4 percent of those surveyed supported the legalization of medical marijuana.” Like in the United States, the support for legalizing marijuana is growing to new heights in Thailand. Luckily, the public sentiment still plays a crucial role in government policies in the country.

What We Know

Here are three key things that we do know based on the report by VICE that could solidify the thought that Thailand and the rest of the world, may not be far from full-on legalization.

  • Consumption taxes from purchased goods are a large portion of the Junta government’s funding each year. By legalizing cannabis and taxing its sales, the government could stand to drive their revenue substantially higher.
  • Thailand government definitely has an interest in medical cannabis and cannabis in general as they recently sent a team of specialists to study the local cannabis industry in Canada.
  • The Junta’s Cabinet of Ministers have introduced amendments to drug laws in the country that would open the doors for researchers to perform human-based clinical trials utilizing cannabis. According to experts, this bill which is currently being reviewed by the National Legislative Assembly is likely to pass.

If Thailand changes their cannabis policies will only be known with time. What we do know is that if Thailand makes moves to reform their cannabis laws, it is likely many other countries throughout Asia and around the world will also do the same. According to Somyot;

"Some Thai people want to grow marijuana in other countries like Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Burma,” and leaders, the Prime Ministers of nearly all of these countries have said that “ok we are waiting. If Thailand says yes, then we’ll say yes too.” “If you can move Thailand, you can move the whole region, and the whole world.”

  Posted: Thursday, November 1st, 12:00pm 14 days ago
Profile PictureWritten By: Ashley Priest

Ashley is a freelance cannabis writer and the co-owner of CannaLance. Her passion for sharing education and truth surrounding cannabis stems from a personal loss. Ashley has always had an elevated relationship with cannabis but it wasn't until 2015 that she turned that passion and relationship into a career as a cannabis writer.

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