Thailand opened its first full-time clinic specialising in traditional and alternative cannabis-based medicine on Monday, as a part of a move by the govt towards developing a medicinal cannabis industry.
“This may be a pilot clinic, because we cannot produce enough doctors expertly in cannabis,” Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirankul, told reporters at the opening ceremony in Bangkok. Patients will receive treatment freed from charge for the primary fortnight , he added.
Thailand, which features a tradition of using cannabis to alleviate pain and fatigue, legalized marijuana for medical use and research in 2017 to spice up agricultural income.
There are already around 25 cannabis clinics attached to general hospitals round the country but, unlike the newly-launched pilot clinic, they operate for just a couple of days every week thanks to a scarcity of specialized staff.
The largest producer of medicinal cannabis is currently the health ministry’s Government Pharmaceutical Organization. Kasetsart University’s director of medical cannabis research, Natakorn Thasnas, told Reuters that the university would supply 2,200 kilograms of cannabis leaf to the ministry.
Cannabis production, cultivation and sale has been limited to licensed Thai producers for subsequent four years to guard the domestic industry. Currently, only hospitals and research facilities are allowed to use for cannabis production and extraction licenses, but the govt is reviewing regulations to enable Thai businesses to use for permits.
Last year, Thailand dropped cannabis and hemp extracts from its narcotics list and proposed a draft law that might allow each household to grow six cannabis plants.
Four sorts of drugs, containing different combinations of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psycho-active ingredient in cannabis, got to patients to treat migraine, insomnia, neck pain and muscle stiffness, the ministry said during a statement.
The pilot clinic, based within the Ministry of Public Health, expects to ascertain between 200 to 300 patients daily.
“I was worried initially , but I studied the consequences and decided it had been better because its natural,” said Waraporn Boonsri, 69, who received four vials of cannabis oil to assist her sleep.
Nearly 2,200 patients have registered at the clinic until March, a health official told Reuters. Anutin said there have been plans for 77 clinics to be opened across the country, with one in every province.