Buri Ram community selected for ganja pilot project
A community near a hospital in Buri Ram province has been selected by Cannhealth institute as the first to be allowed to harvest medical marijuana at home under a ministry-sanctioned pilot project expected to start early next year.
Dr Kitti Losuwanrak, director of Cannhealth Institute, under the Ministry of Public Health, said on Sunday the pilot project will start in January if all of its proposals are approved.
The project is part of the ministry’s campaign to enable ordinary citizens to grow marijuana at home for medical purposes. The initiative is led by Anutin Charnvirakul, Minister of Public Health.
Cannhealth Institute will submit the details on the homegrown cannabis project to the Mr Anutin for his final approval.
The project would still need approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because growing homegrown marijuana is still illegal, even if it is meant for medical use.
The government at the end of 2018 approved a law to legalise the medical use of marijuana but only when approved by the state.
“If approved, Buri Ram province will become the first in the country where people can grow cannabis in their homes for medical purposes without facing legal action,” Dr Kitti told the media yesterday.
The plan involves 10 households in a community near the Ban Noen Malai Hospital in the province’s Khu Muang district.
Each house would be allowed to grow six cannabis plants in its garden.
“Villagers can grow cannabis in their homes,” Dr Kitti said. “All they need is [sturdy] fences.”
“They need to use non-contaminated soil and water for harvesting because we only accept quality, chemical-free cannabis,” he noted.
The community was selected because villagers showed interest and the ability to comply with ministry rules. They were also chosen to participate in the pilot project because the villagers were willing to work with the Ban Noen Malai Hospital.
Dr Kitti said the pilot project could be the pretext for others to be allowed to grow marijuana for medical use at home. At the same time, the health ministry is pushing to have the kingdom’s narcotics law amended to allow people to allow the practice.
“The Ministry of Public Health want to observe the feasibility of homegrown marijuana by using this pilot as a test case,” Dr Kitti said. “If the outcome is encouraging, the ministry is going to expand the project to other provinces.”