Unis to grow pot with DTAM
Plan to develop 16 new formulations
The Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine (DTAM) says it will work with universities to grow marijuana plants next month for the making of 16 formulations of medical cannabis.
Kwanchai Wisithanon, director of the department, said these 16 formulations mainly help people manage deteriorating health conditions, as cannabis can help improve a healthy body balance.
There is a need to follow up on the effects of the consumption, he said.
Further development is also needed to make consumption easier, added, saying that the medicine can be transformed into a small sheet, which can be placed under a patient's tongue.
According to Mr Kwanchai, it was found that quality marijuana plants can be grown well in the Songkhram River basin, which covers Nakhon Phanom, Sakon Nakhon and Mukdahan.
Accordingly, Kasetsart University's Sakon Nakhon campus and Rajamangala University of Technology Isan's Sakon Nakhon campus will be contacted to help develop the marijuana plantation.
About 1,400 rai of land are designated for the plantation, he said, adding that "Hang Karok" strain of marijuana will be cultivated.
Dr Kwanchai said Pra Arjarn Phun Ajaro Hospital, which has been certified by the WHO for good manufacturing practices (GMP) in making herbal products, will be contacted to produce the 16 medicines made with cannabis.
Efforts will be made to ensure the medicines will not be misused, he said. Few details on how to make sure the medicine goes to those who truly need it were available.
In the future, the director said, hash oil will be produced, kept and added to the medicines.
"We are doing it according to the laws," Dr Kwanchai said.
"We are now in the process of seeking permits for the project with the narcotics commission."
Dr Kwanchai said if the approval is given, marijuana is likely to be grown in April and the cultivation could take between 90-100 days. The harvest could be carried out in July, he said.
The department can use up to 2,000 kilogrammes of marijuana a year to make medicines, which could serve approximately 1,000 patients, the director said.
The production will be split in half by the two universities, he said, adding the department would serve as a distributing partner for the medicines.
Dr Kwanchai said in the initial research stage, the medicines would be distributed for free.
After that period, they are likely to be sold at affordable prices, he added.