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As the legal cannabis industry grows rapidly worldwide, attitudes toward the once-taboo drug are softening in Southeast Asia, a region with some of the world’s toughest laws — including death sentences — on drug offenses.
Leading the way in the region is Thailand, which legalized marijuana for medical use and research in late 2018, and in January became the first country in Southeast Asia to launch its first full-time clinic dispensing cannabis-based medications.
A regulated legal cannabis market could turn medical marijuana into a potentially lucrative tourism market for Thailand, as the below story by Skift contributor Yixin Ng shows. Experts are seeing untapped potentials in the wellness segment, which will boost Thailand’s status as a leading medical tourism destination and its recent push into niche segments to attract high-spending visitors.
Yet the green rush is unlikely to turn into a gold mine anytime soon in Asia. Thailand’s move is just baby steps in the normalization of medical marijuana, but authorities in Asia are unlikely to legalize cannabis for recreational use in the near future when stigma around marijuana use remains strong.
Skift Stories and More Expert Insights
Relaxed Rules on Medicinal Marijuana Could Create a Buzz for Thailand Tourism: Southeast Asia’s biggest changes toward cannabis liberalization continue to unfold in Thailand. Some speculate boom times are ahead for Thailand tourism with medical cannabis now legal. But don’t expect ailing patients to flock there for cannabis treatments anytime soon.
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Travel Megatrends 2020: The Rise of Ultra-Long-Haul Flights Is Changing the Way We Travel: Connecting to the ends of the Earth with nonstop flights is an increasingly attractive prospect for flyers. The growing popularity of nearly day-long flights, however, is set to disrupt the economics of the airline business. Adapting will be crucial as demand from the travel industry grows.
Asia Editor Xinyi Liang-Pholsena [firstname.lastname@example.org] curates the Skift Asia Weekly newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday.