BANGKOK — Though the distribution of medical marijuana has yet to begin, there’s now a way to legalize one’s stash – Thais and expats alike – provided they have a legitimate use for it.
Those who possessed marijuana for medical use prior to the law being enacted can register it under a new amnesty program rolled out Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration. Four people showed up to do just that on the first day. For now the process is limited only to cannabis and not kratom, though the latter has also been made legal.
People who have been using cannabis for treatment of approved uses before the law was passed and want to go legal should first obtain a medical certificate verifying their eligible condition from a certified doctor, dentist or Thai traditional medicine practitioner.
After that, they can register with the FDA per the following steps. Though foreign nationals are eligible, they may need help if they don’t speak Thai.
Prepare the Documents
1. Identification documents (ID Card or passport).
2. Medical certificate(s) verifying relevant medical condition(s) being treated.
3. Download the application form. Send it to the printer. Fill in details including name, identification number (ID card or passport), details about the medical conditions being treated, the amount of marijuana in possession, and the name and license of the doctor, dentist or traditional medicine practitioner who certified your medical need (See No. 2).
Prepare the Goods
Patients must bring the cannabis they have been using along with their application. Those with amounts that can’t be moved or too large to transport must bring photos showing their stock, and department staff will schedule a date to send an inspector.
As the amnesty was designed to put the law into force before the full system can be rolled out, patients will be authorized to possess an amount deemed necessary for a 90-day supply. For quantities over that amount, users can either agree to surrender any excess (which requires completing another form) or justify its need on the original form.
Anyone unable to come in person can authorize a representative on the form to make the application on their behalf.
Hold Your Breath
Bring all the above to the second floor of building No. 6 at the Food and Drug Administration’s central offices in Bangkok. Those living outside the capital can take it to a provincial public health office (or Google translate and scroll down to the “Provincial Public Health Office” section to find a local office).
After approving the application, officials will countersign the application form which will then be kept by users as proof of their legal status. Rejected applicants will have their marijuana seized but will be free to leave without prosecution.
The FDA and narcotics officials say that, as of now, medical marijuana allowed in Thailand must exist in a form approved by the Health Ministry, whether edible, flower or oil. Tourists traveling with medical cannabis might still get their stash confiscated while entering the country if it is in an unapproved form.
Officials advise visitors to carry a copy of their medical prescriptions to show to customs agents, then contact the FDA upon arrival to get official approval to avoid prosecution or get their seized cannabis returned.
They’ll need to complete a different form than that above declaring the amount of marijuana in their possession. After bringing that to the same FDA or public health office, they must also present their passport, proof they are traveling such as airline tickets, and a copy of their medical prescription and prescribing doctors’ license.
In one small bureaucratic wonder, none of these forms for tourists are available in English, and staff said they don’t know if that will change.
For more information, there are now two hotlines dedicated to medical cannabis. The one operated by the FDA includes an option for English speakers and can be reached at 1556, Ext. 3. Another has been set up by the Narcotics Control Board for other issues at 1386, Ext. 3. Both lines operate 8:30am to 4:30pm on regular government work days.
Expect a long wait as officials said the lines are meeting high demand.