Legislators in Thailand legalized medical marijuana across the entire country on Tuesday.
“This is a New Year’s gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people,” M.P. Somchai Sawangkarn said in a televised session approving the law.
The push to legalize medical use of marijuana came in an extra session of parliament called before the holidays to approve a slate of bills. However, not everyone is on board with the move, with detractors worrying that patent firms and outside investors could wreak havoc on a legalized marijuana market in the country, making it tougher for Thai people and scientists to access medicine.
“We’re going to demand that the government revoke all these requests before the law takes effect,” Rangsit Institute of Integrative Medicine and Anti-Aging Dean Panthep Puapongpan told Reuters.
The shift toward easier access to the drug is notable in Southeast Asia, which features several nations with particularly Draconian drug laws. Trafficking carries a possible death sentence in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.
The current president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duerte, has made headlines for his harsh actions against suspected drug dealers and users. Since he assumed power, there have been reports of state-sanctioned hit squads murdering drug users and dealers extra-judicially. The leader went so far as to compare himself to Hitler in the ways he hopes to deal with the drug trade.
“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are three million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he told reporters. “You know, my victims, I would like to be, all criminals, to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition.”