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Move to let folk doctors prescribe cannabis
New Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has ordered ministerial regulations to be revised in a bid to help assist 3,000 folk medicine practitioners, including activist Decha Siripat, to prescribe cannabis for treatment without violating narcotic laws.
Without the amendment, these practitioners will not be allowed to use cannabis because the 2018 Narcotic Act permits only professionals — such as medical doctors, pharmacists, dentists and licensed Thai traditional medical practitioners recognised by the Thai Traditional Medical Professions Act — to prescribe cannabis to their patients.
Mr Decha and 3,000 other practitioners only received a five-year-certificate from the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine (DTTAM) to cure their patients, but they are not treated as professionals under the law.
If they want to acquire that status, they need to go into lengthy process — which takes a year or more — to get approval from the ministry of public health.
“The amendment is an attempt to help users of cannabis for medical treatment. We want to make sure that patients and medical practitioners of cannabis medical treatment will be free from legal problems,” Mr Anutin said on Sunday.
He said the amendment will add a clause that automatically includes these 3,000 practitioners under the Thai Traditional Medical Professions Act.
A meeting was held after the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) last Friday announced it could not approve the “Decha Oil” formula cannabis-extract oil because Mr Decha was not a professional under the act.
Mr Decha is president of the Khaokwan Foundation, a sustainable agriculture advocacy group. Three years ago he started giving away his own specifically formulated version of cannabis oil to patients for free.
The law revision will start next week and will be complete for Mr Anutin to sign in August, according to Rossana Tosittrakul, a former senator and representative of the Network of advocacy group on cannabis medical treatment, who attended the meeting on Sunday.
“The regulation amendment will clear technical barriers in laws that delay access of patients to cannabis treatment. We do not want to see thousands of patients wait in vain or die from waiting because the law has technical problem,” she said.
She said the meeting also discussed the transferal of ten thousands of patients who are waiting for Decha Oil to receive medical treatment from other facilities approved by the ministry of public health.
Mr Decha could return to provide his famous cannabis extract oil only after his status is legal and his cannabis extract oil is approved by the FDA, according to Ms Rossana.