A draft narcotics code drawn up by the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) which will permit medical research on the effects of cannabis on humans will be put before the Cabinet next week.
Sophon Mekthon, chairman of the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) committee, said yesterday (May 10) that if the draft code receives approval from the Cabinet, it will be forwarded to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) for deliberation.
If the draft is endorsed by the NLA, the law would come into effect within 180 days of publication in the Royal Gazette.
According to the Narcotics Act, the planting and extracting of substances from marijuana is allowed for medical purposes only.
However, it does not extend to medical research involving humans.
Dr Sophon was speaking after a meeting yesterday (May 10) with a committee looking into the medical use of marijuana.
The meeting, chaired by Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, covered a wide range of cannabis-related issues such as cultivation, improvement of cannabis varieties, medical research and regulation of the narcotic plant. Dr Sophon said a panel will be set up to oversee each issue.
The first panel, headed by the GPO, will supervise cannabis cultivation and how to improve it. The GPO will also work closely with Kasetsart University professors and experts.
The second committee will focus on property extraction from the plant for medical use. This group will also be led by the GPO with support from the National Science and Technology Development Agency, the Department of Medical Sciences (DMS) and professors from the faculties of pharmacy at Mahidol and Rangsit Universities.
The DMS and the Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicines Department will supervise the third committee which will look at the plant’s medicinal purposes both in conventional and traditional medicines.
This panel will be supported by the Department of Mental Health and King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital’s Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre.
The last committee will oversee measures to regulate cannabis research and use for medical purposes, supervised by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which will work closely with the ONCB.
In addition, the FDA is also required to regulate products derived from the plant. The GPO has also considered turning its building on Rama VI Road into a cannabis research centre.