First batch of GPO medical cannabis to be delivered to hospitals next week
The first batch of 4,500 bottles of medical cannabis, produced by the Thai government’s Pharmaceutical Organization, will be delivered to hospitals on August 7th, said Dr. Surachoke Tangwiwat, deputy secretary-general of the Food and Drug Administration, on Thursday.
He explained that Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul had made it a policy that all state hospitals in every province stock medical cannabis for distribution to patients when prescribed by doctors.
However, Professor Dr. Thirawat Hemachutha, a lecturer at the Faculty of Medical Science of Chulalongkorn University, said that the 4,500 bottles of medicinal cannabis are insufficient to meet the demand and that it may affect patients who need a regular supply.
He suggested that existing underground producers of medicinal cannabis extract should be allowed to supply their product so patients will have access to the treatment on a continuous basis.
GPO director Dr. Vithoon Danviboon, meanwhile, said that the medicinal cannabis produced by the GPO is in the form of cannabis oil, which is taken by placing drops of the oil under the tongue, adding that the first batch is intended for trial use at clinics that participate in the research project.
He explained that the Narcotics Committee had granted permission for the GPO to plant cannabis to be used as raw material for extracting oil for medicinal purposes.
He said that the GPO requires that cannabis based products must meet defined standards to make sure that they are safe, in accordance with Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and with the THC and CBD content tailored to the requirements of each ailment.
More importantly, he said the extracts must not be contaminated by heavy metals or herbicides.
“The big question now is how to cultivate cannabis, or marijuana, properly to ensure good quality which is free from plant diseases such as fungi or root diseases. The knowledge for proper cultivation must be passed on to the community-based enterprises, so the cultivation of the plant can be expanded for economic benefit,” said Dr. Vithoon.
CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) are two natural and active compounds found in cannabis.
Patients afflicted with the following diseases can have access to medical cannabis from certified hospitals or clinics: anxiety, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, dizziness caused by chemotherapy and the last stages of certain cancers.