Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thailand set to start first tests of medical marijuana on patients

Thailand set to start first tests of medical marijuana on patients

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Several nations have legalised medicinal cannabis, including Canada, Australia, Israel, and more than half the states in the US. AFP

Thailand set to start first tests of medical marijuana on patients

Thailand is poised to start its first tests of cannabis oil on patients, a health official said on Friday, as excitement swirls around a new industry that could create money-making avenues for entrepreneurs while offering relief for suffering patients.

Marijuana has been used as a traditional herb for centuries in Thailand but was banned decades ago.

The junta’s rubber-stamp parliament voted in December to legalise it for medical purposes.

Thailand is the first country in Southeast Asia to embrace medical marijuana, though recreational use remains illegal.

Now state-sanctioned clinical trials testing the impact of cannabis oil on selected patients will be held as early as July, according to Nuntakan Suwanpidokkul, the director of research and development at the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO).

Extracts or “sublingual drops” will be administered during the tests to volunteers suffering from nausea and pain from chemotherapy, among other ailments.

“We will use cannabis plants to extract oil for finished products,” Nuntakan said, adding that “we hope to begin in July or August”.

They will come from the government-managed indoor plantation that opened last month on the outskirts of Bangkok.

It has around 140 plants cultivated under controlled lighting, temperatures and a misting system known as aeroponics.

A gold rush mentality has set in since Thailand’s parliament voted to change to the law.

Political parties are touting the cash crop’s benefits for the livelihoods of farmers and big blowout festivals are planned for April.

The country’s Food and Drug Administration also announced a 90-day amnesty starting in March for Thais to declare marijuana used for medical reasons and it has received thousands of calls asking for more details.

Several nations have legalised medicinal cannabis, including Canada, Australia, Israel and more than half the states in the US.

US-based Grand View Research has estimated the global market for medical marijuana could reach $55.8 billion by 2025.

But critics caution that Thailand lacks the technical know-how to be truly competitive in the lucrative industry.

“What I feel that the law is lacking is that the people who are writing it don’t understand that cannabis is a very finicky plant,” said Kitty Chopaka from the Highland Network, which advocates for marijuana legalisation.


  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Angkor photo rules clarified

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) denied that it had banned the use of camera tripods in the Angkor Archaeological Park, explaining that the confusion stemmed from a long-standing rule which required commercial photographers and videographers to apply for permission to film. The explanation followed a

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At