Top: Public Health Minister Anutin Charnwirakul fawns over a pot of pot.
Photo: Maejo University
Over 2 metric tons of weed should be ready by February now that a Chiang Mai university has become the first in Southeast Asia to cultivate industrial-grade cannabis.
Like a proud father, a politician who rode a pro-cannabis platform into power earlier this year, Anutin Charnwirakul, was on hand to see the first medical marijuana seedlings planted at Maejo University in the northern province’s San Sai District.
Twelve-thousand cannabis sprouts have been planted at the university’s 3,040sqm facility. It expects 2.4 tons of dried weed to result from the first such batch to be grown legally on an industrial scale.
Anutin, now the health minister, said the cannabis would be delivered to the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, which oversees the legalization campaign and distributed through its network, Anutin.
The strain being grown is called Issara 01. To ensure it is of medical-grade quality, officials said it will be strictly grown under international organic standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements and the US Department of Agriculture.
The government hopes this batch will help to support the high demand for medical-grade marijuana. Attorney and researcher Wirot Poonsuwan told Coconuts Bangkok recently that supply shortages are one of the hurdles to widespread availability. That means only registered patients with severe conditions such as last-stage cancer, Parkinson’s or drug-resistant epilepsy are the first in line to receive cannabis treatments.
One of the first patients to receive medical cannabis treatments in the kingdom is 72-year-old Chin Donmon, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease nearly 10 years ago. She was among the first patients at the first cannabis clinic to open in Thailand – and all of Asia – recently in the province of Prachinburi.
When the herb becomes more readily available, however, attorney Wirot believes those with less critical needs – such as insomnia, depression or stress – will be able to access medical-grade cannabis treatments, likely some time next year.
Hear our interview with Wirot, who answers many questions about the state of the legalization drive.