NSB backs growing marijuana for state medical research

NSB backs growing marijuana for state medical research

A researcher at the Royal Agricultural Station Pangda in Chiang Mai shows how cannabis sativa, or hemp, is harvested for medicinal use. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)
A researcher at the Royal Agricultural Station Pangda in Chiang Mai shows how cannabis sativa, or hemp, is harvested for medicinal use. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

The Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) chief has joined calls by farmers to designate land on which to grow marijuana, not just hemp, for medical research.

"If the government legalises cannabis for this purpose, it will help alleviate the burden on the NSB, which polices this narcotic plant," said Pol Lt Gen Sommai, adding substances derived from marijuana can go into medicines for treating various ailments including cancer.

He made the remark after a rumour went viral on social media networks recently that the government would allow marijuana cultivation on 5,000 rai of land on a military compound in Sakhon Nakhon.

The claims were unfounded, as the only recent moves in this area include a regulation published in the Royal Gazette on Jan 6 on the cultivation of hemp in designated areas for medical research purposes only.

But some groups including farmers are now calling for the official cultivation and eventual use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Pol Lt Gen Sommai said allowing cannabis for medical research and medical use would be consistent with steps taken in several foreign countries. In Thailand, however, cannabis use is still illegal. Reports emerged last year that the Council of State had discussed withdrawing marijuana from the list of Type 5 narcotics, but the matter went no further. For now, the only legal cannabis cultivation exists in a laboratory in Rangist University for medical research.

Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said the idea of legalising cannabis, even for medicinal use, needs more debate. Yet farmers are already discussing where it could be grown. On Monday, Prapat Panyachartrak, president of the National Farmers Council, confirmed the council has discussed designating an area for marijuana cultivation with the Office of Narcotics Control Board.

They initially looked at 5,000 rai of land on a military compound in Sakhon Nakhon, where marijuana plantations could be easily monitored and regulated. Sakhon Nakhon was selected due to its conducive climate and soil fertility. Wild marijuana has been scattered around Phu Phan Mountain range in the province as part of the move.

Witthaya Chanchalong, Sakhon Nakhon's governor, insisted Wednesday the province had no such plans.


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