Weed set to come in drop form 'by July'
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Weed set to come in drop form 'by July'

GTO says first crop will require clinical trials

The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) said yesterday it is ready to deliver medicinal cannabis products in the form of sublingual -- or under-the-tongue -- drops to hospitals nationwide by the end of July.

The GPO, a Thai state enterprise that manufactures pharmaceutical products, has been authorised by the Ministry of Public Health to grow cannabis and conduct research into ways of developing related medicines.

This came about after the government acknowledged the legitimacy of evidence showing the outlawed substance can have health-enhancing properties.

The state body also previously sought to initiate a legal amendment that would permit marijuana to be used for medicinal use and research.

Later in December the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) passed the second and third readings of an amendment to the narcotics law legalising the production, import, export, possession and use of cannabis -- and kratom -- products for medical purposes.

Speaking to the media, Sophon Mekthon, chairman of the GPO's board committee, said he was confident in the GPO's ability to deliver the medicinal cannabis products to hospitals within the next two and a half months.

Dr Sophon said the body has already planted the country's first-ever medical-grade cannabis plants and they will be harvested within 12 weeks.

This should be enough to produce 12,500 millilitres of the sublingual drops, he noted.

He said the first batch of 2,500 bottles, each containing 5ml of drops, would be given to patients participating in a clinical test to determine how effective they are, and hospitals that have made purchase orders.

"We won't be directly selling them to the public," Dr Sophon said, stressing the GPO would comply with all Thai regulations.

Only 170 doctors trained by the Ministry of Public Health on how to use the medicinal cannabis products will be allowed to prescribe the medicines to patients, Dr Sophon said.

He said the sublingual drops can be used to treat patients who suffer from epilepsy, peripheral neuropathy, Parkinson's, and some of the side effects of chemotherapy.

The GPO has planted 140 cannabis plants using foreign strains in a closed, indoor system under strict supervision, he said.

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