BANGKOK — Over 31,000 people applied to legally keep their marijuana stockpiles for medical use before registration closed this week, health officials said Thursday.
Food and Drug Administration official Surachoke Tangwiwat said 31,177 people nationwide applied for the amnesty, while another 139,977 signed up for the program on the internet but never showed up. Applicants will be sorted between those with and without a legitimate need for the marijuana they declared.
The country’s first batch of government-sponsored, publicly accessible medical marijuana is also underway. Surachoke said 2,500 cannabis extract oils are expected to roll out by “July or August.”
Once production is complete, the marijuana oil will be distributed to patients in need by specially trained physicians and pharmacists, Ministry of Public Health perm sec Sukhum Kanchanapimai.
“We are taking the safety of patients who require cannabis extract oil for treatment into consideration,” he said. “The oil must be dispensed and controlled by medical personnel who received training from the Department of Medical Services.”
Sukhum added that the first group of 175 doctors recently passed training and secured licenses to distribute marijuana oil.
A drug law amended in December and enacted in February legalized marijuana for medical research and for treatment of afflictions such as seizures, nerve pain and chemotherapy side effects.
The law also promised an amnesty to patients, researchers, business operators and farmers who already possess marijuana for medical purposes – on the condition that they declare their stashes to the authorities by Tuesday, May 21.
Declared cannabis plants or products that fail to meet the requirements under the law will be handed over to the ministry for research or destroyed.
But a source in the Office of Narcotics Control Board, which regularly conducts drug raids, said today that officials will take a lenient approach on those found to possess marijuana for medical purposes but who failed to apply for an amnesty.
“Some people have their needs,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Perhaps patients who cannot go register on their own are bedridden.”