Thailand’s first full-time medical marijuana clinic opened in Bangkok this month. Thailand is the first Southeast Asian country to allow medical marijuana, though cannabis has not been legalized, and there are harsh penalties for recreational use.
The Ministry of Public Health anticipates between 200 to 300 patient visits daily, and nearly 2,200 patients have registered for treatment with medical marijuana. On its first day, the clinic gave away free cannabis oil to nearly 400 people. Patients who visit the clinic will receive two weeks of free care.
Thailand has approved 38 medical conditions for treatment with medical marijuana, including Parkinson’s, epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, and cancer. In the future, Thailand may expand its medical marijuana policy to include allowing patients to cultivate up to six plants at home.
Chad Tribble, one of the co-founders of Mountain High Suckers who recently visited Thailand to speak and attend the Elevating Cannabis Expo 2019, told the Bangkok Post about the wide range of uses and products that can be derived from cannabis.
“You can infuse the oils, the cannabis compounds into a lotion which delivers the medicine through your skin instead of smoking or eating it. You can probably feed animals such as elephants with the by-product from the plant as well.”
Thailand already has about 25 cannabis clinics, but access to them is limited to hospitals, and they’re only open part-time.
“This is a pilot clinic, because we cannot produce enough doctors with expertise in cannabis,” said the country’s public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul.
Until at least 2024, only Thai companies will be licensed to cultivate the plant. Tribble sees huge potential in Thailand for CBD and cannabis businesses in the coming years.
“Thailand is a great prospect for foreign companies to be able to work with Thai companies to offer products for people to use medically,” Tribble said.
Despite Thailand’s current harsh drug laws, and recent 180 on medical, the country has a long history with cannabis. Before its ban in the 1930s, cannabis was used for clothing and other fabrics, as well as food. A Thai boat noodle soup called kuaytiaw reua used cannabis as a spice.
“It is vital to remember that cannabis is one of the 50 Fundamental Herbs of Chinese Medicine and dates back 4000 years in Asia,” Dr. Jenelle Kim, Founder & Chief Formulator of JBK Wellness Labs, told Forbes. “Beginning thousands of years ago, the healing properties of cannabis were used to help balance a variety of conditions–from calming the mind and body, balancing digestive disorders, easing pain and fatigue, among others.”