6 June 2024

The National Legislative Assembly on Friday unanimously passed in the first reading an amendment to the Narcotics Act which seeks to legalize the import and export and possession of marijuana and kratom for medical purposes.

The amendment will also empower the Office of the Narcotics Board to designate areas for cultivation of marijuana or kratom for medical purposes.

The bill was proposed by a group of 44 members of the NLA led by Mr Somchai Sawaengkarn.  It outlines the use of Category 5 drugs which include kratom and marijuana for medical purposes as drugs under Category 2 which include opium.

The bill will now be scrutinized by a 29-member panel of the NLA within 60 days after which it will be sent back to the NLA for deliberations in the second and final readings.

The whole legislative process is expected to be completed by January 23.

During the first five years of the enforcement of the amended bill, the Ministry of Public Health and a private sector yet to be determined will produce marijuana oil for medical purposes.

Legalization of marijuana and kratom for medical uses coincides with increasing calls by green groups and academics to prevent patents for marijuana extracts from being granted to foreign firms by the Intellectual Property Department.