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Psychiatric Experts in Thailand Warn Against the Use of Medical Marijuana

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BANGKOK – Psychiatric experts in Thailand are warning against using marijuana extracts or cannabis-based medicines to treat patients, including young people suffering from mental illnesses, as it would aggravate their conditions.

Regular administration of marijuana and marijuana extracts to youngsters with schizophrenia doubles the risk of the condition worsening, according to Burin Suraarunsamrit, head of the Mental Health Department.

The disorder causes abnormal behaviour among patients who struggle to understand reality. It is also prone to being triggered by marijuana, so it is not worth taking the risk, said Dr Burin.

Although marijuana has the medical potential to cure some diseases, “there is still no place for its use in treating mental disorders”, he said, citing a concern from the Royal College of Psychiatrists of Thailand.

He explained that cannabis can disrupt brain functions and send people who are given it, especially those at a young age, into episodes of anxiety. Dr Burin raised the warning during a recent two-day training course on marijuana for medical professionals.

Authorities require professionals to attend the session before they can apply for licences to use marijuana extracts. More and more information has been widely circulated about the law which has been enacted to legalise the use of marijuana for medical and research purposes.

However, Dr Burin insisted that people need to understand its less glamorous side too.

“People must be educated and informed about the pros as well as the cons,” he said, adding that this will help the government better prevent negative impacts.

A public health source said some countries that gave the green light to marijuana extract use are experiencing repercussions. In the state of Colorado in the United States, some young people were found to be addicted to the extract. There were also reports of frequent road accidents involving young drivers who took it.

“Freedom to use marijuana is still subject to certain controls. The age of the extract users must be clearly defined,” the source said.

In another development, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board has delayed a plan to destroy marijuana seized from traffickers as criminal evidence.

The authorities currently have 22 tonnes of seized marijuana in its warehouse waiting to be disposed of.

The office is running a check to see how much of the seized marijuana can have medical oil extracted and so far, 10% of what has been tested has been found to be untainted and is able to be extracted, according to office secretary-general Niyom Termsrisuk.

They also plan to formally request the Food and Drug Administration’s approval to distribute extract from seized marijuana to medical personnel for medical purposes.