The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is pushing to expedite the listing of cannabis in the National List of Essential Medicines, a move intended to ensure its availability to those who need it, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Monday.
Speaking at the official opening of the Institute of Medical Cannabis, Mr Anutin said since the Public Health Ministry approved the use of cannabis and hemp for medical and research purposes, more than 50,000 patients have been prescribed cannabis-based treatments by licenced health professionals.
At present, he added, there are over 300 community enterprises which have joined hands with the ministry to grow cannabis and hemp for medical and research purposes.
To ensure the sustainable supply of cannabis for patients and promote further research into hemp-based products, the FDA will push to speed up their inclusion in the National List of Essential Medicines, he said.
"The efficacy and safety of medical cannabis will continue to be reviewed, and the findings will be used to support further changes to medical cannabis laws," he added.
The ministry is actively collaborating with both public and private stakeholders to promote the use of medical cannabis and hemp products. Some were invited to help us raise the quality of cannabis that we grow, while others joined to produce high-quality products which meet the market's demands and needs, the minister added.
According to Mr Anutin, the Institute of Medical Cannabis will serve as the coordinating agency that will help ensure that the use of cannabis-based products by public health agencies and community enterprises is in line with the government's existing policies.
"The institute will also provide accurate information about the plants and their use, as public interest in the plants have grown, he added.
According to the minister, households are allowed to grow six cannabis plants each, but they must first obtain permission from a local hospital. The leaves, stalks, stems and roots of the cannabis plant are not categorised as narcotics and can be used in households, he added.