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'A New Year's Gift:' Thailand Approves Medical Marijuana

The Southeast Asian country becomes the first to do so.


Big news out of Thailand. The country's National Legislative Assembly made an amendment to the country's constitution that legalizes the use of cannabis for medical and research purposes. The vote wasn't even close: 166-0.

Related: Uruguay Legalized Marijuana and the Crime Rate Has Plummetted

Somchai Sawangkarn, one of the lawmakers who helped write the legislation, said it was "a New Year's gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people."

Thai farmers are stoked about the decision.

"I expect Thailand can make 100 billion baht a year ($3.07 billion) from growing cannabis and selling the raw material and cannabis oil," chairman of The National Farmers Council of Thailand, Prapat Panyachartrak, told Agence France Presse.

But don't go lighting up a celebratory spliff in Bangkok just yet. The recreational use of marijuana is still highly illegal in the country -- and could lead to 15 years in a Thai prison and stiff financial fines.

Related: This Is Non-Negotiable: Cannabis Legalization Must Include Restorative Justice