A health clinic in Chiang Mai, Thailand is the first to offer both cannabis-based and modern treatments – one of an expected 37 clinics that will open as the government expands medical cannabis access, the Bangkok Post reports. The clinic includes 125 total medical staff, including 39 physicians, and four traditional Thai medicine practitioners.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said that cannabis would be available at the clinic to treat “five groups of illnesses” – Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. Thailand has a long tradition of using cannabis to treat pain and fatigue and the nation legalized cannabis for medical use and research in 2017.
Last year, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha issued a decree ordering the Department of Intellectual Property to invalidate all patents for any molecule derived from cannabis following an outcry by citizens over concerns foreign interests would use the patents to monopolize the Thai medical cannabis marketplace.
In August, the government announced that it would turn seized cannabis into medical products for its domestic market and in November unveiled a proposal to allow citizens to grow up to six plants and sell them back to the government which would process them for medical purposes.
Currently, the Public Health Ministry’s Government Pharmaceutical Organization supplies most of the medical cannabis products for the country’s domestic market but Kasetsart University’s Director of Medical Cannabis Research Natakorn Thasnas said the university will supply 4,850 pounds of cannabis to the ministry to meet growing demand.
Charncirakul indicated that the new clinics are the “fourth phase” of Thailand’s medical cannabis expansion.