THE PUBLIC Health Ministry is working to make the medical use of marijuana legal by next month.
Once Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn endorses the new announcement prepared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on November 9, cannabis extracts and oil will become legal for medical use, just like morphine.
“We will ask him to sign the announcement at the upcoming Narcotics Control Board’s meeting,” FDA secretary-general Tares Krassanairawiwong said yesterday.
He added that his agency had prepared the draft announcement to reclassify cannabis, and change its status from a completely prohibited item in Thailand.
He said the FDA had made this decision after extensively studying the issue from both the academic and legal aspects.
Several studies show that marijuana can help with the treatment of several diseases, including neurological disorders, terminal cancer as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. “We need to remove legal blocks so marijuana can be used for the benefits of patients,” Piyasakol said.
He said the move was in line with the ongoing efforts to amend the current Drug Act, which aims at allowing the use of marijuana for research and medical purposes.
The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) is currently gathering opinions on the proposed change.
Separately, Justice Minister ACM Prajin Juntong said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had already instructed relevant authorities to speed up the legalisation of marijuana for medical purposes.
“Short-term measures will roll out in December,” Prajin, who is also deputy prime minister, said.
He explained that key measures would involve the control of cannabis, ranging from the selection of the strain to extraction and preparation.
The Office of Narcotics Control Board’s secretary-general, Niyom Termsrisuk, meanwhile said cannabis farming would have to be done in a closed system
“And its output will have to be in the form of medication only, so it does not fall in unauthorised hands,” he said.
In related news, General Prayut ruled out the possibility of allowing recreational use of marijuana at a meeting with young scientists at Government House yesterday.
Some of the scientists had pointed out that recreational use for marijuana was already allowed in some countries.
“No, we will only allow marijuana for medical use,” Prayut said, adding that drugs were still a big issue in Thailand.
Asst Professor Dr Thira Woratanarat, a medical lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, also warned of the possible adverse impact of cannabis legislation, saying he was worried that marijuana might end up in the hands of unauthorised users.
At a recent forum held by the NLA, participants keenly debated on measures to control the use of cannabis once it is legalised.
Niyom, meanwhile, warned against fake marijuana-based concoctions flooding the market.