The Strategist

Thailand, Malaysia to legalize medical cannabis

11/12/2018 - 11:54

Asia established stringent penalties for the use and sale of drugs, but the legal environment is changing in several countries where cannabis trade, or marijuana, is becoming a profitable industry, writes the South China Morning Post.

In Thailand, where the sale of marijuana is prohibited by law, the Parliament set in motion plans to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. On November 9, the National Legislature submitted a proposal for reclassification of marijuana as a legal drug and for allowing its regulated sale and storage. Marijuana may be available for licensed use until the end of the year, reports The Washington Post.

This will turn the country into the epicenter of a growing industry. Supporters of legalization argue that the legal market for marijuana in Thailand could increase to $ 5 billion by 2024.

Malaysia, which recently abolished the death penalty for all crimes, including drug trafficking, began informal government discussions on the legalization of drug cannabis.

In the meantime, South Korea is considering amending legislation to allow the import of drugs containing cannabidiol. Cannabis use is illegal in Japan, but researches on cannabinoid are being conducted. About 40 farmers received licenses for cultivation of relevant plants. In Sri Lanka, the Minister of Health announced in April that cultivation of medicinal cannabis will begin later this year.

As Martin Jelsma of the Amsterdam Transnational Institute points out, Nepal, Bhutan and India can also be opened for legalization of medicinal cannabis. Even China may be tempted to pursue a policy of liberalization: production, trade and consumption of cannabis are illegal, but the authorities support limited production in Heilongjiang and Yunnan provinces for commercial purposes.

The emerging market in Asia is fueled by promises of economic benefits and growing recognition - at the global and regional levels - of legalizing marijuana.

According to forecasts of Grandview Research, by 2025 the market for medical marijuana will grow to $ 55.8 billion.

In October, Canada became the second country in the world after Uruguay to completely legalize use and acquisition of cannabis for recreational purposes.

According to forecasts of the analytical company New Frontier, by 2025 the market for marijuana in Canada will reach about $ 6 billion. In addition, the new legislation allows Canadian companies to export their products, which creates additional prospects for this market.

However, support for legalization in Asia is not unanimous. China, South Korea and Japan warned their citizens visiting Canada of cannabis last month.

The World Health Organization website reports that cannabis use can cause acute and chronic health effects, including impairment of cognitive development and psychomotor activity, although WHO recognizes studies that have shown the therapeutic effects of cannabis use.