Thailand made history in 2018 by becoming the first country in Asia to legalize medical marijuana. The first phase of the roll-out is about to begin, with 15,000 doses of medical-cannabis oil ready for distribution throughout the country by the end of the month.
This first batch is intended for people who are sure to require it for medical benefits, according to the Minister of Public Health, Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn. The second phase will have the medicine obtainable at every hospital starting in April 2020.
Sakolsatayadorn admitted that this first batch will be insufficient in meeting the soaring demand for the product.
He acknowledged that the Ministry of Health has put together guidelines that will secure the distribution system. These guidelines will also protect the country from drug abuse and non-medical access.
According to the Bangkok Post, there are around 400 medical doctors, pharmacists, and dentists who are permitted to prescribe the oil. This isn’t taking into account the 2,900 traditional medical practitioners who were also authorized to do so.
The bill for legalization was officially processed in Thai parliament in December 2018, where it was unanimously approved. An official decree from the King was signed in February 2019.
Marijuana was previously integral to Thai medicinal practices until the country banned its use in the 1930s. Thailand was once the land of the world’s most powerful ganja, making it a considerable exporter of the drug in the 1980’s. The rampant weed industry resulted in draconian drug laws towards both users and dealers.
But legalization proved beneficial, with reasons ranging from the economic to the many potential political gains. In the recent Thai elections, political parties such as the Bhumjaithai party promised that cannabis could elevate the status of farmers in the country by up to $19,500. The country might even allow weed cigarettes to make its way into the market.
This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.