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Thailand just made it legal to grow and trade marijuana, becoming the first country in Asia

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Thailand has become the first country in Asia to legalize the growing and selling of cannabis, a move that its government hopes will kick off a $2 billion industry.

But recreational usage of the plant is still banned, Thailand’s Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said in a CNN interview, which the outlet said was conducted just before the law came into effect on Thursday.

Instead, Thailand allows the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, which has been legal since 2018. “If [tourists] come for medical treatment or come for health-related products, then it’s not an issue,” Anutin said.

If a tourist wants to travel to Thailand so they can”smoke joints freely,” then “it’s wrong,” he continued.

“Don’t come. We won’t welcome you if you just come to this country for that purpose,” Anutin told the outlet.

Under Thai law, anyone caught getting high in public is considered causing a disturbance and would be subject to up to three months in prison or a $720 fine, 

“There has never once been a moment that we would think about advocating people to use cannabis in terms of recreation, or use it in a way that it could irritate others,” Anutin told CNN.

To boost the local cannabis industry, Thailand also says it’s giving out 1 million cannabis plants so people can plants at home. There’s a restriction, though — plants produced in the country can’t contain more than 0.2% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient that makes you high.

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