The Cabinet on Tuesday approved an amendment to the Narcotic Act allowing registered patients, Thai traditional medicine businesses, and farmers to access medical cannabis, government spokesperson Narumon Pinyosinwat said.
They will receive certificates to produce, export, import, sell and possess marijuana to develop medical knowledge in collaboration with the government.
The new law also hands responsibility for seized marijuana to the Ministry of Public Health, which can destroy or preserve the confiscated drug as it sees fit.
The draft will be scrutinised by the Council of State and a House committee before being presented to the House.
Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the new law has been screened by the Narcotics Commission and all relevant sectors and would unlock the full potential of medical cannabis.
Under the new act, drug manufacturers will also be able to export more cannabis-derived medicines, increasing Thailand’s competitiveness in the market and boosting development to benefit the public.
Food and Drug Administration deputy secretary-general Paisarn Dunkum said the move comes after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced urgent projects to enhance local research and development of medical cannabis.
Department of Thai Traditional and Complementary Medicine director-general Dr Marut Jirasrattasiri said Thai cannabis clinics in 291 public health centres had received 60,000 requests for treatment so far this year.
He said the amended law would help boost knowledge to produce cannabis extracts for factories to produce medicines under World Health Organisation good manufacturing practices (GMP) for 152 hospitals in Thailand.
Four hospitals are currently piloting medical cannabis treatments on 15,200 patients while the ministry has established six cannabis plantations to support future development.
These are Khlong Muang Hospital in Nakhon Ratchasima province, Chiang Phin Hospital in Udon Thani, Ban Na Yao Nuea Hospital in Sakon Nakhon, and Ban Na Pak Khow hospital in Phatthalung.
The ministry last month agreed to blend marijuana with pharmaceutical formulas to prescribe in local health promotion hospitals.
It has approved 17 such medical recipes for use in these hospitals.
Dr Marut said more than 60,000 people are now interested in receiving medical marijuana treatment in State public health facilities nationwide.
THE NATION (THAILAND)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK