Ad hoc panel to be set up for research and development of marijuana for medical use

The Ministry of Public Health will set up an ad hoc committee tasked with conducting research and development of marijuana for medical purpose, Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said on Wednesday (April 5).

He added that members of the committee would be drawn from various sectors, especially academics and researchers from Rangsit University, with Dr Sophon Mekthon, chairman of the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, to be approached to head the committee.

The minister said that it was about time for Thailand to adjust its stance in order to make use of anything such as marijuana which is potentially useful for medical purpose.

With the exception of the law which still poses as an obstruction, he said Thailand has the capability to conduct research and development of marijuana for medical use.

Dr Piyasakol

Meanwhile, Dr Sophon disclosed that the GPO board recently made an inspection trip to Canada to observe their research on medical use from marijuana.

As far as Thailand is concerned, he explained that the research on medical potentials from marijuana should focus on four areas of medical use:  treatment of seizures among children as existing medication sometimes does not work in controlling seizures; treatment of some brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease as some existing medication tends to stiffen the patients; whether extracts from marijuana can be used to treat some forms of cancer; and the replacement of morphine by extracts from marijuana as pain killer.

Dr Sophon noted that, in Thailand, ethanol is used in extracting chemicals from marijuana, but in Canada, carbon dioxide is used and Canada has 13 extracting factories and has four years’ experience in this field.

Regarding legal impediment against research and development, he said the Justice Ministry and the Food and Drug Administration had been working to amend the narcotics law to pave the way for the research and development of marijuana for medical purpose.

Earlier, Rangsit University rector Arthit Ourairat urged the prime minister to exercise his special power under Section 44 of the interim Constitution to amend narcotics law to make it possible for research and development of marijuana for medical purpose.