By Dewey Sim and Jitsiree Thongnoi / Asia One

The issue of cannabis legalisation around the world was once again thrust into the spotlight this month, following a vote by the United Nations’ Commission on Narcotic Drugs to reclassify it one that is less dangerous and has medical or therapeutic benefits.

On December 2, the commission’s 53 member states voted to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. There were 27 nations in favour – including the United States , India, Nepal and Thailand – while among the 25 in opposition were Russia , China and Japan , as well as one abstention.

Experts said the result could prompt greater medical research and legalisation efforts around the world. But it also illustrated a separate issue: Asian nations are starkly divided on their views towards marijuana use, a not entirely surprising outcome given the efforts made to recognise its benefits in countries such as Thailand and Malaysia.