Thai state hospitals have stocked up on cannabis oils and are ready to start dispensing them to patients, according to a press release by Anutin Chanvirakul, the Public Health Minister who also doubles as the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand.
Chanvirakul revealed that Thai state hospitals received a total of 4,500 bottles of marijuana extracts starting on August 7 as a result of the law which was passed in December to make medical cannabis legal in the Asian country.
Under this new law, the government will be responsible for regulating the production, processing and sale of medical marijuana products. Companies will have to apply and be granted licenses before they engage in any activity connected to this new medical marijuana industry.
The Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO), an agency run by the Thai government, will work with other state agencies to avail a total of 200,000 bottles of marijuana oil on a monthly basis starting in the month of September. To meet this requirement, the GPO intends to start growing marijuana in greenhouses next year so that supply shortages don’t jeopardize the implementation of the medical marijuana program.
The marijuana oils being stockpiled in state-run hospitals will be given out free of charge to the qualifying patients who are enrolled in the state’s universal health care scheme (the Gold Card) or any of the other health insurance schemes available in the country.
Thai doctors will first diagnose each patient and then recommend the particular cannabis oil formulation that is best suited to help that patient. Based on this prescription, the hospital pharmacy will dispense the oil to be used by the patient.
The addition of medical marijuana to Thai law is widely seen as a boost to the agricultural sector of the country since its favorable conditions can position Thailand as a leader in marijuana production in the region and internationally.
Prohibition Partners, a marijuana research company, estimates that the marijuana industry in Thailand could be worth at least $661 million by 2024.
However, this potential can only be turned into reality when marijuana cultivation and processing is ramped up quickly enough to meet the expected high demand among patients in the country with a 300-year history of using marijuana as a medicine before the drug was outlawed in the 1930s.
The country hopes to develop its own cannabis strains that will compete favorably on the world marijuana market. Laos, Malaysia and the Philippines are currently considering to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Experts welcome the bold step taken by this Asian country to embrace medical marijuana and they believe that industry participants like VIVO Cannabis Inc. (TSX.V: VIVO) (OTCQX: VVCIF) and VPR Brands LP (OTCQB: VPRB) may be thrilled that the Asian medical marijuana market could soon open up.
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