AUTHORITIES have promised to support Decha Siriphat, a prominent traditional medicine practitioner, in his efforts to develop and distribute cannabinoid medicines to those in need.
Biothai Foundation director Withoon Lienchamroon said the decision was made at a meeting held yesterday with Decha, his colleagues from the Khaw Kwan Foundation and executives of the Public Health Ministry’s Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine.
The Public Health Ministry officials had invited Decha to discuss legal issues related to his work on producing and distributing marijuana-based medicines after he and his colleague Pornchai Chulert were charged with possessing and dealing in cannabis by the Narcotics Control Board earlier this month.
Decha’s representative also submitted an application yesterday to obtain a legal permit for the practitioner to produce and distribute cannabinoid medication.
Withoon said Dr Marut Jirasrattasiri, director-general of the Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine Department, had promised Decha that his department would help resolve his legal problems so he can resume his mission of helping patients.
“The officials at the meeting agreed that Decha’s work was beneficial to many patients, and the Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine Department also confirmed that some of his medicines met official standards and had proven to be effective,” he said. “The Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine Department has also invited Decha to help with research on cannabinoid medication once he has received a legal permit.”
However, Marut said that since patients’ safety is the top priority, Decha’s medicines will have to be closely examined to ensure they are free from harmful microbes, heavy metals and other hazardous substances before they can be distributed.
He also raised concerns that some of Decha’s formulations were not based on the 16 official recipes for traditional medicines that can legally be used for treatment.
However, since Decha has said that his formulations are an upgraded version of the traditional recipes, Marut said he will set up a committee to examine these formulations and have them included in the official cannabinoid medicine list in the future.
“The most important thing is Decha must obtain all legal requirements for producing and distributing cannabinoid medicines first before he can resume his work with patients,” Marut said.
Meanwhile, Khaw Kwan Foundation manager Rean Klaiklang said she has applied to have Decha registered as an official traditional medicine practitioner at the Suphan Buri Provincial Public Health Office yesterday. The next step will be to seek permission from the Food and Drug Administration to produce and distribute cannabinoid drugs.
“Decha meets all the requirements for a traditional medicine practitioner, as he has been helping patients with herbal medicines for more than a decade now,” Rean said. “That’s why I don’t think he will have a problem getting classified as a traditional medical practitioner and getting permission to work on medical marijuana.”
She added that officials from the Suphan Buri Provincial Public Health Office will visit the Khaw Kwan Foundation tomorrow for inspection. Marut, meanwhile, said the decision on Decha’s application lay in the hands of the Suphan Buri authorities, adding that it will take about a week or two for the approval to come through.