Thailand turning seized cannabis into medicines

Thailand’s drug-fighting agency said last week it would distribute 24 tons of seized marijuana to institutions to manufacture cannabinoid medicines until harvests from legal cannabis farms are ready.

Thailand recently passed legislation to legalize and regulate the production of cannabis for use in making medicines and for patients with a legitimate and documented medical need for cannabis. The Kingdom is the first country in Southeast Asia to take that step.

Thousands of people have registered with the government under an amnesty as patients that need cannabis for their medical conditions. A process is underway to determine if each patient’s need is valid. Meanwhile, advocates of medical marijuana are calling for further liberalization. One medium-size political party campaigned on the issue in the recent national election, saying it meets patients’ needs and would be a lucrative industry.

Niyom Termsrisuk, secretary-general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, told a press conference last week that his agency has 24 tons of cannabis that police had seized from drug dealers in recent months and the Board is ready to hand them over to institutions registered with the government to manufacture medicines containing cannabinoid.

“We are sure we can hand over the cannabis in our possession to registered organizations for producing cannabinoid medicines by the end of this month,” Niyom said.

The agency will have to inspect and test the cannabis first, he added, to ensure it does not contain pesticides or other harmful substances. The government has licensed several farms or plantations to grow cannabis for medical purposes, but as the changes in the law are a few months old, those crops are not yet ready to harvest.