In East and Southeast Asia, democracies and dictatorships alike have long skewed toward severe penalties for marijuana users. Thailand, a key ally in America’s global war on drugs, has been no exception.
But the perception of cannabis has begun to change with astonishing speed. Thailand’s right-wing government recently legalized medical cannabis — and identified the creation of a homegrown marijuana industry as a “top priority.”
Even some of Thailand’s conservatives now talk excitedly of churning out “world-class cannabis” from its lush farmlands and stealing the lead before other Asian countries build their own markets. (Around the region, South Korea and the Philippines are taking baby steps toward loosening anti-pot laws while China has quietly permitted research into the drug.)
In Thailand, at this point, there is no marijuana industry. But a few months back, authorities quietly allowed scientists to put together the country’s first-ever cannabis laboratory — one of the few legal facilities of its kind in Asia.
That lab, at a school north of Bangkok called Rangsit University, is finally being unveiled. On a guided tour, The World was given access to more than a dozen pharmacists, medical researchers, and agricultural specialists who are helping build this industry from scratch. [Read more at The Week]