Politics, Travel

Thailand Has Approved Medical Cannabis Cultivation and Distribution

August 26, 2020 04:24 pm ET
Thailand Has Approved Medical Cannabis Cultivation and Distribution

Thailand has long been known for its powerful stance on cannabis and fierce drug laws. Too much surprise in December of 2018, Thailand’s Parliament approved a medical cannabis program. By doing so they reformed some of the world’s most harsh cannabis laws. Since then, Thailand has removed cannabis extracts from their narcotics list and has opened medical cannabis clinics, however, cannabis is still a category five drug and illegal possession can result in a very hefty fine and up to 15 years of incarceration.

On August 4th, 2020, the Thai cabinet reportedly approved a proposal that will allow for cannabis to be cultivated commercially for distribution to medical cannabis patients and exportation. The proposal was submitted by the Public Health Ministry within a package of amendments to the Narcotics Drugs Act. The proposal allows private production and the sale of cannabis, meaning that patients will soon finally have much-needed access to cannabis legally. While this may not sound like much seeing how Thailand approved a medical cannabis program several years ago, the excitement lies in the details.

The Elevated Details

Traisuree Taisaranakul, the deputy government spokeswoman, stated that the amendments approved “will allow for businesses, medical professionals, and patients to cultivate, import, export, and sell the plant.” This brings balance, allowing opportunities for the pharmaceutical industry and those who have a deep-rooted history in the traditional use of cannabis and Thai culture throughout centuries.

The Amendments have now been sent for legal review before they proceed to the Thai Parliament if approved. This is absolutely astounding and exciting considering that in other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, those caught in possession of the plant risk the death penalty.

Could Thailand Become a Leader in Medical Cannabis with Such Broad Police Power?

Thailand Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul stated the following in an interview with Reuters.

“The law will promote the pharmaceutical industry and increase competitiveness, which will be important for Thailand in becoming a leader in medical cannabis. “

While there is much to celebrate in the country, there is much contradiction surrounding cannabis still. The program is quite restricted as to who qualifies, and police in the country are authorized to request a urine test on the spot from anyone they suspect to be using cannabis. If a test is performed and returns positive, it can be treated as possession. These broad powers of the police force in the country is partly due to the country being ruled by a military junta for many years following a 2014 coup d’etat.

Where Legal Cannabis Patients Can Seek Treatment in Thailand

Under the approved medical cannabis program, there are four hospitals throughout the country, utilizing cannabis oil that has been authorized for production. Three of the four are in Highlands North East, where the history and roots of cannabis cultivation and use run deep. The hospitals currently piloting treatments include the following.

  • Khlong Muang Hospital in Nakhon Ratchasima province
  • Chiang Phin Hospital in Udon Thani
  • Ban Na Yao Nuea Hospital in Sakon Nakhon
  • Ban Na Pak Khow Hospital in Phatthalung

A Growing Market Within a Widely Respected Institute Could Bring Much Balance

The Chiang Mai province is widely known for its widespread cultivation of cannabis and opium. It is also home to Thailand’s largest legal cannabis crop, which calls a greenhouse complex at Maejo University home. This 12,000 plant crop resides at one of the country’s most respected and oldest agricultural institutions. If the proposed amendments are approved, it will allow those that have deep roots in cultivation and the culture of cannabis within Thailand the same opportunity as it will the pharmaceutical industry bringing balance to a once highly illegal market in the country.

What’s Next?

Before being approved by the Parliament, the proposed amendments gained the approval of the Public Health Ministry and the Narcotics Control Board. Next, it must receive the approval of the Prime Minister’s Council of State before heading to the Legislative Assembly for review.

Inclusion for All

Under the proposal, one of the greatest aspects is the opportunities and doors that are being opened for folk healers in addition to traditional medical practitioners. So far this year, NST.com reports that there have been more than 60,000 requests for treatments at nearly 300 public health centers that are waiting to go online that will be run by folk healers with extensive knowledge regarding the healing practices and benefits of cannabis within the Thai culture.

Their inclusion in the proposal comes after they petitioned and raised great concerns. Concerns specifically regarding the country privatizing a global industry. One that has been kept alive in the shadows of prohibition by peasant cannabis cultivators for hundreds of years. At this time, the forms of cannabis that have been approved for use have not changed, and the only cannabis products approved for manufacturing, distribution, and use are oils, tinctures, and extracts.

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