Thailand’s Health Ministry has introduced Dr. Ganja a green cuddly toy to help educate Thai about the benefits of medical cannabis. Dr. Ganja is the latest illustration of Thailand’s embrace of medical cannabis.
An industry poised to expand to more than $660 million by 2024 from an estimate of $300,000 last year. The biggest cheerleader of cannabis is Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.
Though Thailand last year became the first Southeast Asian nation to allow medical marijuana, the plant has not been decriminalized and tough penalties remain.
Possession and trafficking could lead to long prison terms and big fines, Bloomberg reports.
Amid that backdrop, the pro-marijuana deputy Minister wants to add cannabis plantations and processing facilities. As well as scale up local hospitals to become champions of medical cannabis. This is a crop that some in Thailand have never seen, let alone sought to grow.
“People here have ganja fever,” said Thanaporn Pornsangakul, a scientist at Pela Plern Herbal Development Center. Its responsible for growing and supplying medical cannabis plants to Buriram’s only internationally accredited hospital. “There are so many who are interested in growing.”
First Medical Marijuana Clinic
The government this week opened the doors of its first medical marijuana clinic. Offering free cannabis oil and care to patients with a list of ailments. In the first day, hundreds of patients visited the clinic. Furthermore 3,700 have shown interest through the clinic’s mobile application, according to Bloomberg.
Even more community groups in Buriram have been asked to grow and cultivate medical-grade Cannabis. The cannabis would then be delivered to the state-owned Khu Muang Hospital. Above all as part of Anutin’s announced “Buriram Model.”
The model is meant to serve as a prototype for cooperatives between farmers and medical institutions. He’s mulling the possibility of legalizing recreational marijuana. Which is in stark contrast to the government’s stance a year ago.
The Thai government had invested 100 million baht ($3.3 million) in the first indoor growing facility. It opened last year, as well as 12,000 cannabis plant seedlings, marijuana market researchers Prohibition Partners said. Its plan to prepare one million bottles of cannabis oil by February 2020 “shows ambition” on the part of the Thai government, the company added.
“Thailand has shown itself to be a leader of legislative drug reform among Asian nations. Especially in relation to medical cannabis,” according to Prohibition Partners’ Head of Consultancy Barbara Pastori. “This is likely to be the case with recreational cannabis also, particularly if there remains strong political will to do so.”