Thailand has recently gained a new status as the first Asian country to legalise medical cannabis for medical treatment and research. In a sweeping move, the Thai parliament voted unanimously in favor of its legalisation in November 2018, with the bill then signed into law in early 2019.
Starting in Thailand, these changing regulations are slowly spreading across Asia, a region known for its strict anti-drug laws. Taboos against marijuana are beginning to fade as medical benefits are touted by health practitioners for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
The country is now set to move forward with production and distribution, and patients in Thailand will officially be able to be prescribed and receive legal medical cannabis beginning in August 2019. 10,000 bottles of cannabis oil will be produced by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization and 5,000 more will be produced by Chao Phraya Abhaiphubejhr Hospital. (Source: Bangkok Post) The hospital will be preparing the cannabis oil using about 660 kilograms of marijuana seized by the Narcotics Control Board, and it plans to import 2,500 marijuana seeds from the Netherlands to grow its own plants.
Furthermore, Thailand’s new public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul stated recently that he wants to amend the country’s medical cannabis law to make the drug more widely available for those who need it by expanding the network of practitioners who can prescribe medical cannabis. The process will be highly regulated and practitioners will have to report to officials at the Special Access Scheme (SAS), the state body overseeing medical cannabis use, before prescribing to patients. The SAS will record outcomes, keep track of side effects, and monitor vulnerable patients.
With the new legislation has come some uncertainty around regulatory requirements. In May 2019 the Thai cabinet issued a statement that current medical cannabis regulations have been updated to include the following seven conditions.