Thailand rolls out full-time cannabis clinic

  • Thailand
  • Tuesday, 07 Jan 2020

Creating awareness: A person wearing a marijuana leaf-shaped mascot head attending the launch of the first official medical cannabis clinic in Bangkok. — Reuters

BANGKOK: Thailand has opened its first full-time clinic specialising in traditional and alternative cannabis-based medicine, as part of a move by the government towards developing a medicinal cannabis industry.

“This is a pilot clinic because we cannot produce enough doctors with expertise in cannabis,” Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters at the opening ceremony in Bangkok.

Patients would receive treatment free of charge for the first two weeks, he added.

Thailand, which has a tradition of using cannabis to relieve pain and fatigue, legalised marijuana for medical use and research in 2017 to boost agricultural income.

There are already 25 cannabis clinics attached to general hospitals around the country but unlike the newly launched pilot clinic, they operate for just a few days a week due to a lack of specialised staff.

The largest producer of medicinal cannabis is currently the health ministry’s Government Pharmaceutical Organisation.

Kasetsart University’s director of medical cannabis research Natakorn Thasnas said the university would supply 2,200kg of cannabis leaf to the ministry.

Cannabis production, cultivation and sale has been limited to licensed Thai producers for the next four years to protect the domestic industry.

Currently, only hospitals and research facilities can apply for cannabis production and extraction licences, but the government is reviewing regulations to enable Thai businesses to apply for permits.Last year, Thailand dropped cannabis and hemp extracts from its narcotics list and proposed a draft law that would allow each household to grow six cannabis plants.

Four types of drugs, containing different combinations of cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol, the psycho-active ingredient in cannabis, were given to patients to treat migraine, insomnia, neck pain and muscle stiffness, the ministry said in a statement.

The pilot clinic, based in the Ministry of Public Health, expects to see between 200 to 300 patients daily. — Reuters

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