Thailand has continually made headlines this summer after becoming the first Asian country to legalize growing cannabis and consuming it in foods and drinks in June. Now, it looks like neighboring country Malaysia could be looking to take after
According to a health ministry official this week, Malaysian leaders are interested in learning more about Thailand’s path to legalization, with the Thai health minister announcing that he would meet with his Malaysian counterpart to discuss the topic in greater depth, according to a
Thailand Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said that Malaysian Public Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin showed interest in studying the country’s cannabis policies, as Malaysia weighs whether or not to pass a similar law that would liberalize medical use. Thailand became the first Asian nation to legalize medical cannabis back in 2018.
Charnvirakul was the main driver behind Thailand’s legalization of cannabis for medical purposes and estimates that the industry could be worth more than $3 billion within five years.
As part of the visit, Charnvirakul said the ministry plans to take Jamaluddin on a medical cannabis tour to study the extraction of cannabis cola, or clustered flowers, for health purposes, the
“Topics of discussion will be on how to jointly move forward this kind of policy in order to create benefits, economically and medically,” he said at a Bangkok news conference. “We want everyone to recognise the property of this cannabis plant. The more people are interested in this field, more development and research [it] will create.”
A Malaysian official who anonymously spoke to Reuters also said that the country is in the process of developing their “own framework for the usage of cannabis for medical purposes” with intent to learn from Thailand.
The Present State of Cannabis in Malaysia
Currently in Malaysia, the cultivation and recreational use of cannabis is illegal. Possession of more than 200 grams, or seven ounces, entails a mandatory death sentence. Health Minister Jamaluddin said the import of medical cannabis under a doctor’s prescription is permitted so long as it is registered with the Drug Control Authority.
Jamaluddin also said that the government welcomed clinical studies for the medical use of
Though, as Malaysia seeks out more information on Thailand’s historic process, it’s worth mentioning that the country’s decriminalization of cannabis hasn’t been the smoothest. The country decriminalized cannabis on June 9, removing the plant from its category five narcotics list. In reality, it created a legal grey area that gave citizens easier access to cannabis-infused products, including vendors that set up shop to sell cannabis and cannabis-infused products and restaurants advertising cannabis-infused foods.
This is on top of a law forbidding the smoking of cannabis in public places, as it is considered to be a nuisance, though of course that law isn’t stopping Thai people and tourists alike from lighting up.
Charnvirakul ultimately signed regulations prohibiting people under the age of 20, pregnant and nursing people from possessing or using cannabis, unless they have a doctor’s prescription. Other rules banned cannabis from schools, added the requirement for retailers to provide clear information on the use of cannabis in foods and drinks and applied the previously mentioned law around cannabis smoking, punishable by jail for up to three months and a fine of up to 25,000 baht.
Whether or not Malaysia moves forward to embrace cannabis after chatting with its neighbors, and to what extent, time will tell. Though, if the U.S. market, and whispers around European countries for potential policy shift, are any indicator, the global cannabis market could be a new, booming spectacle by the 2030s.