Thailand’s Governmental Pharmaceutical Organisation began its research on how to develop cannabis-derived medicines as a step towards legalizing the drug for medical purposes.
Thai police handed over 100 kilograms of seized cannabis to the GPO for use in their medical research.
According to Sophon Mekthon, GPO chairman, their researchers chose high-quality marijuana from the police for their medical research. They selected from batches of confiscated imported cannabis, as well as took some samples from seized local marijuana strains.
Sophon said that the weed samples vary in type and quality so researchers could observe their different characteristics and look into which ones are most suitable for medical applications.
In a statement, Sophon said that the GPO plans to use the cannabis for the development of medical cannabis extract and other pharmaceutical products that are of standardized quality. He also added that the organization is hoping to make cannabis-based medicine available to a wide range of people, replacing other types of drugs that carry ridiculously high prices.
Sophon said that the 100 kg or so of cannabis they received from the police could produce around 10-15 liters concentrated cannabis extract that they can use for their research. Sophon assured that they will “safely control” it.
This is the first time that the Thai police handed over seized drugs to another government body. Every year, on June 26, the police usually burn all illegal narcotics that it confiscates to mark International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
The GPO, which operates under Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health, is currently trying to convince the military government to study marijuana and market it for therapeutic purposes. Cannabis is still illegal under Thai law, including testing the drug on humans.
If medical cannabis legalization happens, Thailand would be the first country in Southeast Asia to do so. The GPO’s proposed legalization has a purely economical motivation, with the organization wanting to market the drug.
The Thai government had previously looked into the benefits of cannabis in the treatment of certain ailments and found that it significantly helps with three conditions: loss of appetite and nausea for patients with cancer, epilepsy in children, and multiple sclerosis.
Moreover, the government’s legislative body has held a number of talks over the matter of cannabis being taken off the list of illegal narcotics in order to allow medical cannabis research and development. And while the idea has had minimal resistance, officials have expressed concern that they may not have enough time for any legal amendments that will be enacted under the country’s military government, especially with an election slated to take place in February 2019.