On Christmas Day last year, Thailand became the latest country to legalise marijuana for medical use and research, giving the land of smiles, one more thing to smile about. The country joins Australia, Canada, Columbia, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea and United States to approve marijuana for medical or even recreational use.
In Southeast Asia, marijuana use remains illegal and largely taboo, and where consumption, possession, and trafficking of the drug result in some of the harshest punishments, Thailand’s move in legalising marijuana is a step forward for other countries.
The U.S. had a large influence on Thailand’s decision to legalise medical marijuana, which did not come under public pressure on the government. 2018 was a big year for cannabis in U.S., they legalised marijuana use in three additional states, and approved the growing of industrial hemp for the first time in a century. Many countries made the move to approve marijuana use to reflect the changing U.S. culture and policies.
Recently, there was even a true crime documentary on Netflix, Murder Mountain. The show covers multiple disappearances and murders that occurred in the area of Humboldt county in California, which grows 60 percent of U.S. marijuana. It sheds some light on the marijuana world in the past, and the burdens of going legal.
Although marijuana may still be stigmatised in certain countries, especially in Southeast Asia, some communities swear by its medical use. Users of medical marijuana say it helps relieve chronic pain, inflammation, control epileptic seizures and reduce nausea. Research is ongoing to find out if the drug can potentially help in oncology and mental disorders.
The stigma can be further reduced if research shows marijuana can help with the treatment of specific patient groups, and this will also help the commercial side.
Bud for now, we will see if the recent wave of legalisations will stir the pot.
Lim Guan Yu