Thailand is speeding up legal changes to liberalize 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, Anutin Charnvirakul said in a speech in Bangkok late Wednesday. 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 Southeast Asian nation to allow medical marijuana, stepping up its efforts to be come a bigger player in Asia’s expanding legal cannabis market. But other laws on its books still penalize possession of cannabis with long prison terms and big fines, preventing households from growing the crop.
Anutin said legalization of recreational use is the next step but 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 legalize the recreational use of marijuana,” he said.
Anutin caused a splash ahead of Thailand’s March general election by campaigning for legalization of household cultivation, and his Bhum Jai Thai party is now part of the ruling coalition.