Thousands of Patients Apply for Amnesty Under Thailand's New Medical Marijuana Laws

Two months after the government of Thailand announced plans to legalize medical marijuana, the country's top lawmakers have unveiled a new process to allow patients currently using cannabis to apply for protection from possession and consumption charges until the new law takes effect. The move will also turn successful applicants into registered patients once the country legalizes medical marijuana.

So far, nearly 10,000 residents of Thailand have requested amnesty through the program, which closes on May 21.

In order to qualify for amnesty from possession charges, patients must receive a recommendation for medical marijuana from a physician. They then must take that recommendation along with their supply of cannabis to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) office in Bangkok or their local provincial public health office.

But applicants are not guaranteed amnesty. To prevent people from using the new program as a loophole to get around the country's ban on recreational cannabis use, FDA Secretary-General Thares Karasnairaviwong has stressed that unqualified individuals will be rejected.

"People who do not have cannabis extracts should not hasten to buy them just to exploit the amnesty as the use of them must be carefully prescribed by medical practitioners," Dr. Karasnairaviwong told Bangkok Post.

In December of 2018, Thailand became the first Southeast Asian country to legalize medical marijuana. Since then, the Philippines changed their strictly anti-cannabis stance and passed similar legislation to allow medical use. If that trend continues, Southeast Asia could become the next hotspot for the cannabis industry.

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