With the global market for cannabis and cannabis products sitting at around $25 billion a year, Thailand’s decision to get in on the action seems very smart, indeed.
Now, there are whispers that Malaysia and Singapore might be the next nations to legalize weed in Southeast Asia, but is this likely?
Malaysia May Legalize Medical Marijuana
It’s hard not to laugh when people suggest that Malaysia will legalize weed. It won’t. As an Islamic nation, there is no chance that you will be allowed to wander the streets of Kuala Lumpur with a spiff in hand.
What might happen, however, is that Malaysia will make exceptions for medical marijuana. We don’t think this is going to happen quickly but the government seems open to discussing this use of cannabis in the country.
We should note that, for the moment, Malaysia has been having fun arresting tourists returning from Thailand with cannabis in their system. So, try not to wear a pro-cannabis shirt as you pass through Malay customs.
Then, there’s also the small matter of large quantities of marijuana making people liable for a death sentence in Malaysia. Yes, for now, more than 200g of pot can lead you to the gallows in this Southeast Asian nation.
Singapore Will Play A Slow Game
Singapore, on the other hand, may be next door to Malaysia and share much of the same culture but it is not an Islamic nation.
That doesn’t mean that Singapore is a liberal state edging on total freedom to consume cannabis. Quite the opposite, Singapore is one of the most conservative nations in a conservative part of the world.
The Central Narcotics Bureau has been very clear. Cannabis, in their view, is an “illicit drug” which they see as both addictive and harmful. And while many Singaporeans enjoy a spliff overseas, at home, they are going to be out of luck.
There may be some movement on medical marijuana as just over half the public is in favor of legalization for this reason, but the truth is that any change on this front is liable to be glacial. Singapore won’t rush to make weed legal.
Don’t Forget Cambodia
We think that if you want to find the next most likely country in the region to legalize weed, you could do worse than look at Cambodia.
Cambodia already has a bunch of legal exceptions to its anti-cannabis laws for Cambodians. In addition, it has next to no enforcement of existing laws under any circumstances. This is due to the fact that the police in Cambodia are often involved in the sale of the drug.
There are no stated plans to legalize weed in Cambodia but it seems the most likely bet when compared to Singapore or Malaysia.
Southeast Asia is a very conservative part of the world and while we suspect that if Thailand’s cash registers start printing money due to a cannabis boom, it will encourage neighboring nations to examine their own drug policies, we think any changes in other countries will be a long time coming.
Singapore and Malaysia are not the kinds of places that you would typically associate with liberal drug laws. The Philippines, Laos, Vietnam, Brunei, and Indonesia are all strictly anti-drug too.
That really only leaves Cambodia as a candidate for legalization in the medium term.