Medical cannabis was legalized in Thailand before 2018 ended. Now, they already have a target date for when doctors can begin handing out cannabis prescriptions to registered patients.
According to the public health minister, Dr. Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Thailand’s first batch of legal medical cannabis will be prescribed starting next month.
Where will the medical cannabis come from?
Dr. Piyasakol said that the first 10,000 bottles of cannabis oil extract is going to be produced by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization. Another 5,000 bottles will be manufactured by Chaopraya Abhaiphubejhr Hospital.
Moreover, he said that Phra Achan Fan Acharo Hospital will make five formulas of traditional Thai medicine using the cannabis stock previously confiscated by the police in drug crackdowns.
Who can prescribe medical cannabis?
Dr. Piyasakol added that the Ministry of Public Health has authorized around 400 medical doctors, dentists, and pharmacists, as well as 2,900 practitioners of Thai traditional medicine to prescribe medical cannabis to patients. The ministry has trained these authorized medical professionals and traditional medical practitioners on how to use cannabis-based medicines.
The two-day medical cannabis training course conducted by the ministry gave these medical professionals and practitioners basic knowledge on cannabis, its therapeutic use in different countries, and the various medical conditions and symptoms that can be treated with the drug. These training sessions were organized by the Department of Medical Services, as well as the Department for the Development of Thai and Alternative Medicine.
At the end of the course, participants had to pass an examination for them to apply for a medical cannabis license. This license is issued by the Food and Drug Administration and comes with a two-year validity.
But it doesn’t end there. Those who have been granted a license would need to go through training and examination every two years in order to keep updated of what’s new about cannabis.
The Department of Medical Services intends to organize training sessions every month until September.
Even with the training, qualified practitioners still need to consult with and report to officials at the Special Access Scheme before they begin handing out prescriptions to patients.
The SAS is the state body that oversees the use of medical cannabis. It will keep track of any reported side effects, record the outcomes of the cannabis treatment, and monitor the condition of vulnerable patients, which include those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, final-stage cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The implementation of the country’s medical cannabis program is divided into two phases. The first phase, which runs from July to September, involves the distribution of medical cannabis to patients through at least one general or medical-center hospital in each province.
In the next phase, health promotion hospitals in every tambon and community hospitals in all districts are going to be given medical cannabis to prescribe to their patients.
Dr. Piyasakol explained that this is only the start of medical cannabis consumption, so there is still a limited amount of weed to go around.
The ministry, he noted, is currently developing guidelines for the treatment of patients who develop side effects from their use of medical cannabis in the treatment of their conditions.
Meanwhile, when it comes to access and services, Dr. Piyasakol said that the ministry is adopting an online training scheme that would make it easier for practitioners to obtain the certification that they need in order for them to be able to prescribe medical cannabis.
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Thailand legalized medical cannabis in December 2018, becoming the first nation in Southeast Asia to do so.