More than 1,000 people queued up outside the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) head office in Nonthaburi to put their names down as users of marijuana on Tuesday, the very last day of the amnesty period.
The people, most of whom were under 45, stood around in the two waiting areas or were part of the 200-metre-long queue.
Dr Surachoke Tangwiwat, FDA deputy secretary-general, said some people were disqualified because they presented forged documents and photos of marijuana plants downloaded from the Net. Others, meanwhile, were allowed to register despite bringing insufficient documents. They are required to present the remaining documents later.
Surachoke explained that marijuana users were given 90 days since February 19 to register and seek amnesty under the Narcotics Act.
“Once the marijuana in their possession – which should last two to three months – is finished, a patient cannot just get more.
They will be required to enter the system for diagnosis and be prescribed cannabinoid medication by authorised doctors. If a doctor believes the ailment does not require marijuana, then other medication will be prescribed,” he said.
Surachoke also said that up to 800 people per day have been showing up at the FDA’s one-stop service centre during the 90-day people, and that 16,000 people nationwide have registered so far. He believes more than 2,000 people will show up to register on the last day.
There were long queues in other provinces too, averaging about 100 to 200 applicants.
Some 150 marijuana users showed up to register in Phitsanulok’s Muang district. Provincial Health Office chief Dr Piya Sirilak said that since February 19 nearly 300 users had registered and dozens more were expected on Tuesday afternoon.
Monthasan Suksawat, 65, from Wat Bote district, who needs marijuana for his chronic spine and muscle pain, said he was sent back home to take photographs of the marijuana plants he grows. He said his home was 30 kilometres away, and urged the authorities to extend the deadline for the sake of patients.