Traditionally used in medicine, the practice was outlawed after a 1930’s ban opened the door to harsh punishments.
Thailand becomes the first Southeast Asian country to legalize medical marijuana after a parliamentary ruling Tuesday voted to amend the country’s 1979 Narcotic Act.
The motion was approved by a nearly unanimous vote with 166 members of the National Legislative Assembly voting in favor, 13 abstaining, and none opposing.
"This is a New Year's gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people," said Committee Chairman Somchai Sawangkarn.
Traditionally used in medicine, the practice was outlawed after a 1930’s ban opened the door to harsh punishments for drug use and possession in Thailand.
Although recreational cannabis use is still prohibited, patients will be permitted to carry a specified amount if provided a prescription or doctor-certified note, the Bangkok Post reports.
However, regional activist groups say they will continue to push for complete legalization.
Dean Panthep Puapongpan, Free Trade Agreement Watch representative, a coalition of activist academic institutions, said, ““We are strongly opposed to patent registration of medical cannabis because Thai people have learnt [sic] to use cannabis in many traditional Thai medicines for hundreds of years. Everyone should have the right to equal access to cannabis for medical treatment."
Thailand follows a trend of forward-thinking politics which have opened the door to legalized marijuana around the world, specifically in countries such as Uruguay, Canada, Jamaica, Mexico, South Africa, and Colombia.