On Tuesday, the Thailand government has taken a more progressive step into the 21st century by legalizing marijuana in its country as a New Year’s gift.

But as if for now, its only for medicinal purposes only. Although some are hoping for recreational use of the plant in the very near future.

This is a new year’s gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people,” said Somchai Sawangkarn, chairman of the drafting committee, in a televised parliamentary session.

Marijuana has historically been used in south-east Asia as an ingredient, a kitchen condiment, a medicine, and a source of fiber. Up to the 1930’s, the usage of marijuana was prevalent among the Thais as treatment for fatigue and pain relief.

With the soon-to-be-open marijuana market, the Thai government are being bombarded with patent requests from foreign firms that could end up dominating the legalized cannabis trade. “We’re going to demand that the government revoke all these requests before the law takes effect,” said Panthep Puapongpan, Dean of the Rangsit Institute of Integrative Medicine and Anti-ageing.

This is the first baby step forward,” said Chokwan Chopaka, an activist with Highland Network, a cannabis legalization advocacy group in Thailand.

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