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A breast cancer patient smokes a joint in Bangkok after marijuana was decriminalized last month. Across Asia, cannabis policies remain broadly restrictive, with some inconsistencies and loopholes.   © Reuters
Asia Insight

Smoke signals: Thailand blazes trail for cannabis in wary Asia

Recreational use still far-off prospect as taboos persist from ASEAN to Japan

FRANCESCA REGALADO, Nikkei staff writer | Thailand

BANGKOK -- The monks of Wat Jantrawas, a Buddhist temple in Thailand's Phetchaburi Province, sat in a circle and passed around a small dark bottle. One by one they stirred a few drops of cannabis oil into their coffee cups, reminiscing about their youth when the plant, known in Thai as ganja, was commonplace.

"In their free time, they used ganja when they talked with each other," said the temple's 71-year-old abbot. As a young man, he had used the plant much like MSG to enhance his cooking.

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