BANGKOK, Dec .25 (CGTN) -- Thailand approved marijuana for medical use and research on Tuesday, however recreational use of the drug remains illegal.

The National Legislative Assembly's 166 members in Thailand voted in favor of the change before the New Year's holidays. 13 members abstained from the vote but nobody voted against.

This makes Thailand the first country in Southeast Asia to allow the use of medical marijuana.

"This is a New Year's gift from the National Legislative Assembly to the government and the Thai people," said Somchai Sawangkarn, chairman of the drafting committee, in a televised parliamentary session.

The amendment will become law when it is published in the government gazette, the Bangkok Post reported.