BANGKOK: The government will take a stand on the use of cannabis for medical purposes before the end of the year, says Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
Khairy who concluded a bilateral working visit to Bangkok, on Thursday (Aug 25) said Thailand had shared a lot of views and experiences during his visit on the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes and its cultivation.
"I am confident that we will be able to study Thailand's experience to adapt it to the Malaysian context later when we will decide whether or not to allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
"If approved, we will determine in what framework and how it will be used.
"I want to move fast... I am confident that we will be able to take a stand this year. The main decision Yes or No will be made this year with the policy likely being implemented next year. That is my target," he said.
Khairy’s visit was at the invitation of Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul to explore the potential health benefits of cannabis. Thailand is the first Southeast Asian country to legalise the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
During the working visit, Khairy and the delegation also visited the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) where he was briefed on Thailand's cannabis policy including practices, cultivation methods, research and the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
He also held meetings with the main players of the cannabis industry in Thailand besides visiting Siam Cannabis Land in Pattaya where he was briefed and visited greenhouses and plantations of various types of cannabis.
Khairy explained that the use of cannabis for medical purposes was not new in Malaysia because in 2014, Sativex containing cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was approved for use in Malaysia to treat muscle spasms.
However, the product was not well received in the local market so it was deregistered.
"The existing laws and framework allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes," he said.
Khairy added that the use of cannabis for medical purposes was becoming more widespread internationally including for palliative care, chronic pain management, insomnia and patients undergoing chemotherapy.
"Malaysia does not want to be left behind. So, we want to see and study the effectiveness and safety of using cannabis for medical purposes," he said.
Khairy added that for a start, Malaysia only sees the use of cannabis products for medicinal purposes and not its cultivation.
"If there is a high demand to make it an industry, we will study in terms of (cannabis) cultivation. We will take one step at a time," he said.
Last month, Khairy said a framework regarding the registration of certain CBD products would be announced.
Earlier Thursday, Khairy visited Thailand's first psychiatric hospital - Somdet Chaopraya Institute of Psychiatry where he was briefed by the director-general of the Department of Mental Health Dr Amporn Benjaponpitak about mental health services in the country.
During the visit, he was shown various innovations that can help improve mental health.
Khairy also attended the 12th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) High-Level Meeting on Health and Economy themed "Open to Partnership. Connect with the World. Balance Health and the Economy". - Bernama