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Farmers across Thailand are celebrating in the wake of a new law passed by the Thai National Legislative Assembly that legalizes marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Marijuana was formally listed as a traditional herb by the Thai government up until 1970 when it was made strictly forbidden in the Kingdom.

Now though, farmers may finally be able to grow cannabis again and reap the rewards of a new industry.

But not everyone believes that the impending marijuana boom in Thailand will better everyday Thais.

According to Thailand business lawyers, small and medium-sized farmers will only be able to enjoy the fruits of medical marijuana legalization if the Thai government keeps its promise to block multinational companies from patenting their own medical cannabis extracts and products.

As of now, many foreign companies with existing cannabis research, experience, and technology have applied for medical weed patents in the country. None of their patents have yet to be revoked.

If outside companies are allowed to patent certain medical cannabis extracts, they could forbid universities and government agencies from doing research as well as capitalize off the profits while small Thai businesses miss out.

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At the tail end of 2018, Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly passed an updated narcotics law legalizing marijuana for medical use.

For the most part, foreign investors, tourists, and expats are explicitly excluded from the new law.

According to Thailand business lawyer Jitsopin Narasettapong, foreign entities and companies have been banned from producing, selling, importing, exporting and possessing medical cannabis under a “Thai First” backlash after several non-Thai applicants attempted to secure patent protection for their medical weed products.

“Those companies could have been able to enter the new medical marijuana landscape in Thailand with a technological advantage over Thai companies who just entered the business of medicinal cannabis,” said Narasettapong. “It potentially could have created an unfair marketplace for Thai marijuana start-ups entering the scene.”

But foreigners are not shut out entirely from obtaining or producing medical weed in the Southeast Asian nation.

In fact, one such exception allows visitors with certain illnesses or conditions to import, export, and possess marijuana assuming they get consent from a certified doctor and the Thailand FDA, which is responsible for regulating medical marijuana in the country.

Airlines and cruise ships will also be able to petition the FDA for a license to use marijuana as a treatment for passengers with certain illnesses.

And lastly, all companies that are established under Thai law and have a local office in Thailand are allowed to apply for an FDA license to possess, buy, sell, and purchase as long as two-thirds of the capital is from Thai sources or two-thirds of the board is made up of Thai nationals.

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