Hemp extract touted as pot substitute
'Kanchong' use has medical benefits
A neurology professor has urged the government to use kanchong, or hemp extract, for medical purposes as marijuana oil supplies are likely to fall short.
The looming scarcity is expected to cause problems because the government was "not well prepared" to cope with high demand from patients and medical personnel, Prof Thiravat Hemachudha, head of King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital's Centre for Emerging Diseases told media on Friday.
His comments come after Thai traditional medicine experts reportedly struck a deal on Wednesday with the National Farmers Councils to procure marijuana extract oil.
"The government should consider using kanchong, which has many positive medical qualities and is being planted in many areas under a pilot project," said Dr Thiravat, adding that he disagreed with the government's policy to import cannabis and hemp.
"If we want to import ganja [marijuana] oil, we should have sound reasons, but I see none," Dr Thiravat said.
Despite marijuana extracts being allowed for medical use, marijuana and hemp are listed as narcotics.
Kanchong is also as good as ganja, Dr Thiravat stressed, as the prior also contains cannabidiol, or CBD, which can be applied to treatments for many diseases.
Currently, the government allows the Highland Research and Development Institute to farm kanchong in six provinces for academic purposes. However, the government does not promote hemp for medical use.
Besides using kanchong, other ways to increase the supply of the medicinal oil is cultivating more marijuana oil and using extracts from confiscated cannabis.
However, both methods require strict monitoring. The second method will only add a small amount to the supply as the extracts must be thoroughly examined to ensure they have no contaminants, Dr Thiravat noted.
Dr Thiravat said the country should be careful as the government might strike a deal with foreign companies, which plan to patent their marijuana extracts in Thailand.
The intellectual property debate caused a big stir last year after an advocacy group revealed that over a dozen foreign pharmaceutical firms had submitted their applications for the copyrights for their cannabis extracts.