Asia plants seeds for medical cannabis market

TAIPEI — Several Asian countries are considering steps to decriminalize medical cannabis, potentially putting the region on course to becoming the world’s main production hub of the drug.

A proposal to revise the legal framework in Thailand was submitted last month to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who has supported the plan. This makes it possible for medical cannabis legislation to be enacted by the end of the year.

Thailand’s cabinet approved draft legislation in May to permit more research into the effects of medical cannabis. The Government Pharmaceutical Organization, a state enterprise that makes pharmaceutical products, has begun clinical trials with the aim of producing medicines for four conditions.

But Southeast Asia is no Canada, which last month legalized cannabis for recreational use. The region has some of the world’s strictest narcotics laws, with some countries having the death penalty for drug offenses. Yet a recent case in Malaysia appears to show a

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