BANGKOK — Thailand’s health ministry received its first batch of legal medical marijuana Wednesday to be distributed in state-run hospitals.
Public Health Minister Anutin Chanvirakul presided over the ceremonial handing over of 4,500 5 milliliter bottles of extracted cannabis oil from the Government Pharmaceutical Organization to the Public Health Ministry.
“The freedom for medical usage starts from this point onwards,” Anutin told reporters at a news conference. Anutin was elected to the House in March while leading a political party that ran on the flagship policy of legalizing medical marijuana.
The bottles of extracted cannabis oil will be distributed to 12 hospitals and administered to qualified patients including those who are part of a research program and those undergoing chemotherapy.
The ministry expects to receive 2,000 more bottles by the end of the month, and Anutin said he wants the Thai people to have access to 1 million bottles of cannabis oil extract within five to six months.
Thailand’s legislature agreed to amend the country’s drug law last year to allow the licensed medical use of marijuana, as well as kratom, a locally grown plant traditionally used as a stimulant and painkiller.
Anutin said he believes marijuana should be classified as medicine because it can relieve seizures and Parkinson’s disease and side effects from chemotherapy.
Extracted cannabis oil produced by the Thai government has three variations, one with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one with cannabidiol (CBD), and another with both components. The Government Pharmaceutical Organization said its products contain safe levels of the chemical components derived from marijuana plants.