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Thailand’s Public Health Ministry Says Doctors Could be Prescribing Marijuana by End of June

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BANGKOK – Dr. Somsak Akhasilp, director-general of the Department of Medical Services has told a press briefing that some state hospitals under the Ministry of Public Health will begin prescribing marijuana-based medicine by the end of June 2019.

Dr. Akhasilp told media that the ministry is currently training doctors on the use of the drug.

“All our workshops are fully booked, and many include doctors from private hospitals as well,” he said, adding that the ministry is planning to hold at least two more training sessions.

The next workshop will be held in June for 250 doctors, dentists and pharmacists. A third will be in July for staff working in palliative units.

Currently, 180 of medical personnel have been granted permits from Food and Drug Administration to prescribe marijuana treatment to patients.

“But I want everyone to keep in mind that cannabis is not a cure for all ailments and definitely not a primary treatment. Only patients in four categories are entitled to receive cannabis-based medicines. For other diseases, use is allowed only by permitted research projects,” he told the Bangkok Post.

According to the ministry, those patients who can receive the drug include sufferers of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and nerve pain, and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

However, Dr Somsak also voiced concern at recent reports of patients having suffered side effects from the medicine.

“Cannabis extract can increase the effects of other medications, resulting in possible overdosing and vomiting as a result.

“We are going to set up a monitoring system for patients who suffer side effects from cannabis-derived drug use,” said Dr Somsak.

In another development, the Department for Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine again postponed a decision whether to approve cannabis oil formulated by Daycha Siripatra, chairman of the Khaokwan Foundation, explaining that the department needs “additional” information.

Mr Daychai is an ardent advocate of liberalising cannabis for medical treatment.

The department on Friday approved 10 more traditional recipes with cannabis from 59 submitted by folk doctors in 22 provinces. Currently, 16 in total have been approved by the department.

By Apinya Wipatayotin