BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand delivered 4,500 bottles of cannabis oil to treat hospital patients on Wednesday, its first official use of marijuana for medical purposes since a measure legalizing such use took effect this year.
Thailand, which has a tradition of using cannabis to relieve pain and fatigue, legalized marijuana for medical use and research last year to help boost agricultural income.
The Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) delivered the 5-ml (0.17 fl. oz) bottles to the public health ministry to distribute to hospitals for about 4,000 registered patients, with a further 2,000 bottles to be distributed this month.
“This is the outcome of legalizing medical cannabis,” said deputy prime minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who is also the public health minister. “There is no hidden agenda. We only want to support every patient.”
Thailand has an “urgent agenda” to distribute 1 million bottles of marijuana extracts within 5 to 6 months, Anutin said, adding that the GPO and other agencies will produce 200,000 bottles of the extract every month from September.
The GPO will begin planting its second cannabis crop this month, aiming to expand to greenhouse cultivation by early 2020, so as to boost its oil production to 150,000 to 200,000 bottles.
(Reporting by Artorn Pookasook, Vorasit Satienlerk, Jiraporn Kuhakan; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)