Parliament Approves Draft Weed Law Unanimously

A ranger stands amid a large strand of cannabis to be confiscated Oct. 8 in Phetchaburi province.
A ranger stands amid a large strand of cannabis to be confiscated Oct. 8 in Phetchaburi province.

BANGKOK — The interim parliament unanimously approved Friday the first draft of a bill to legalize medical use of cannabis and kratom.

By a 145-to-0 vote, the assembly endorsed the draft, which would allow research, consumption, production, import and export of the controlled substances for medical purposes.

Attempts by foreign pharmaceutical companies to get control of the market before passage of the law have come to light with dozens of broad patent applications. Lawmakers are seeking to quash them.

Read: Patents Reveal Foreign Pharma’s Secret Bid to Seize Thai Cannabis Market

Recreational use of marijuana would still be illegal under the new law.

Bill sponsor Somchai Sawangkan said agencies and personnel empowered under the draft law to handle cannabis and kratom include the Red Cross, dentists, veterinarians and Thai traditional medicine practitioners.

After the vote, the bill will be reviewed and modified in detail by a committee for a week. The parliament will then reconvene in three more sessions to vote on the revised draft within the next 60 days.