Asia, as a whole, has historically employed some of the stringent cannabis policies in the world. In some places, simply getting caught with the plant can result in the death penalty—certainly not what you would expect to occur while Western Civilization is ushering in a whole new era of legal cannabis.
However, it appears that one country in Eastern Asia is looking to change their narrative when it comes to pot.
Thailand, a country notorious for its no-nonsense weed policies, especially when it comes to tourists, is toying with the idea of implementing its own medical marijuana program.
In order to do that, however, they will have to further research the plant itself—and they’ve made the inaugural step in making that happen.
According to a report by the Associated Press, Thai police have given their government 100 kilograms, or 220 pounds, of high-potency marijuana for research purposes.
The country’s chairman of the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, Sophon Mekthon, says researchers requested the highest quality of pot because they ultimately had medicinal marijuana in mind. However, Mekthon said the qualities somewhat vary, as researchers are still getting a feel for which strains are best suited for certain ailments.
“The Government Pharmaceutical Organization intends to use marijuana, which is a plant that grows well in Thailand, for medical research and to develop it into medical marijuana extract and other pharmaceutical products of standardized quality,” Mekthon said.
The marijuana handed over to the government is product confiscated from police. Cannabis still remains illegal, not only to consume, but for testing purposes as well, making the endeavor somewhat precarious for researchers.
While it’s unlikely law will change under the current military government, Thailand could potentially see a provisional clause that will temporarily allow for medical marijuana. Officials say there has been little resistance from the government when it comes to legalizing the plant, but it will be a difficult process to complete before February elections.
If legalized, it’s likely that Thailand will utilize a variety of non-smokable forms of the plant, including drops, tinctures, ointments, and transdermal patches.
“We will use it for medical purposes and we will safely control it,” Sophon said to the AP. “It is not for recreational use.”
The First Asian Country With Medical Marijuana?
As Thailand continues making moves to become the first Asian country to legalize medical marijuana, it does have one neighboring competitor—Malyasia.
On Tuesday, Malaysia officials briefly discussed the possibility of implementing their own medical marijuana program. While it’s in no way set in stone, the meeting does represent a grand shift in ideology for the country.
“It’s already been done in certain countries, and in certain states in America,” Xavier Jayakumar, Malaysia’s Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources noted, per Bloomberg.com. “If it’s going to be used for medicinal purposes, it can be used. Not for social purposes, for medicinal purposes — yes, it should be allowed to be used.”