How Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Pushed Through Asia’s First Cannabis Legalization

By Charlie Campbell, TIME on April 24, 2023

Until last summer, Thailand had some of the world’s harshest drug laws, with possession of cannabis then punishable by up to 15 years in prison. But on June 9, marijuana was decriminalized and a resurgent cannabis culture has seen dispensaries popping up across the Southeast Asian nation of 70 million.

The move was the brainchild of Anutin Charnvirakul, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister, whose Bhumjaithai Party is today the junior partner in a military-backed ruling coalition. Anutin’s pitch was that legalizing cannabis could reduce prison overcrowding—more than 80% of inmates in Thai prisons were incarcerated on drug-related charges—while spurring a hemp industry to alleviate rural poverty. The Thai cannabis market is now projected to reach $9.6 billion by 2030.

– Read the entire article at TIME.