Even though only two countries have legalized cannabis for adult use so far (Uruguay and Canada), the list of countries poised to legalize soon is growing rapidly. The latest country to join the list is Thailand, with Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health indicating this month that it plans to pursue adult-use legalization in 2022.
Thailand is located in a region of the world that was, and in many cases still is, home to some of the harshest cannabis laws and penalties on earth. Seven countries have issued sentences for cannabis offenses that included the death penalty, with nearly all of them being located near Thailand.
Medical cannabis was legalized in Thailand in 2017, and when that policy change occurred, it was a really big deal. After all, Thailand was the first country in the entire region to do so. Since that time, Thailand has embraced medical cannabis on a level that is nearly unrivaled in not only Asia but throughout the world.
2022 Shaping Up To Be A Huge Year
Thailand is currently the only nation in its region planning on legalizing cannabis for adult use in 2022. However, it is not the only country on the planet with plans to do so. Malta currently has an adult-use legalization bill that was already approved by lawmakers and is awaiting a third procedural reading, after which (assuming there isn’t a snag) it will head to Malta’s president for his signature.
The incoming governing coalition in Germany recently announced intentions to legalize cannabis for adult use and create a regulated industry for legal sales. Malta’s bill only includes personal cultivation, possession, and consumption provisions, as does a legalization measure in Luxembourg, which is also expected to be passed in 2022.
Lawmakers in Israel previously indicated that it would be legalizing cannabis soon. The same can be said in Italy and South Africa, where court decisions have determined personal cannabis prohibition laws to be unconstitutional. Mexico has also had a similar court decision rendered, and full legalization will presumably occur in Mexico in 2022 unless lawmakers get something passed by the end of the month by some miracle.
Thailand Is A Huge Domino
If/when Thailand legalizes cannabis for adult use in 2022, it will never result in Thailand being able to say that it was the first country to legalize. That title obviously goes to Uruguay. It’s quite possible that Thailand may not even be the first country to legalize cannabis for adult use in 2022. With that being said, it can easily be argued that Thailand will be one of the biggest prohibition dominos to fall in the global effort to legalize cannabis worldwide.
As previously mentioned, Thailand is located in a notoriously terrible region on cannabis policy, and directly related to that, it is also a very hard place to build traction for legalization. Thailand is already an international leader when it comes to medical cannabis, and that is having a positive effect on the region. After all, if Thailand reformed its cannabis laws and the sky did not fall, the same will be true once surrounding nations get on the right side of history themselves.
A legalized adult-use industry will only further that process. Since Thailand will likely be the first in its region, if not the entire continent, to legalize, it will reap significant financial rewards. Thailand would get an enormous head start to build its cannabis industry infrastructure, it would be a very attractive location for international investors, and it would help increase the odds of Thailand becoming a popular cannabis tourist destination. That means jobs, public revenues, and boosts to local economies. It also means people won’t be penalized because of the cannabis plant, and ultimately that is always the most important aspect of legalization, including in Thailand.
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Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference. Upcoming conferences include Barcelona (March 10th), Berlin (July 19-20th), and Zurich (September 8-9).