Tens of thousands apply for pot amnesty

Tens of thousands apply for pot amnesty

Weed walkathon gains momentum

Marijuana users apply for amnesty at the Public Health Ministry in Nonthaburi province on Tuesday. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Marijuana users apply for amnesty at the Public Health Ministry in Nonthaburi province on Tuesday. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

A total of 31,177 people applied for the medical marijuana amnesty online during the 90-day registration period, which means the number of medical marijuana users in Thailand may exceed 50,000, says the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre.

However, Prof Thiravat Hemachudah, the head of the centre -- which assisted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the online amnesty registration process -- said patients will still have to contact the FDA to complete the process.

On Tuesday, the FDA said about 20,000 people had registered for the amnesty in person.

The registration period opened on February 27 and ended after 90 days on May 21. The move to grant an amnesty to medical marijuana users followed the government's decision to amend the Narcotics Act and decriminalise the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Prof Thiravat said that while a total of 31,177 people registered online, the website attracted 139,977 visitors throughout the 90-day period.

"Many made queries about the amnesty process, as well as whether their conditions could be treated with cannabis-based cures or not," he said.

"Many of them are real patients and showed genuine interest in seeking an alternative treatment."

Prof Thiravat said the Red Cross and the FDA never expected to receive so many queries and applications for an amnesty when the initiative was launched.

"As such, the government must take this heightened level of interest into account when coming up with decisions relating to medical marijuana," he said.

Meanwhile, "Cannabis Walk Thailand", a walkathon organised by pro-cannabis groups which began on Tuesday, has gained momentum.

The walk was organised by Daycha Siripatra of the Khaokwan Foundation, which has been distributing cannabis oil to cancer patients for free over the past three years.

"If we don't start fighting for full legalisation to decriminalise marijuana, the public won't have any real access nor receive benefits from medical marijuana," Mr Daycha said.

Panthep Puapongpan, dean of Rangsit University's Institute of Integrative Medicine and Anti-Aging, said the university has found further supporting evidence that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) -- the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects -- can kill cancer cells.


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