BANGKOK - Thailand has opened its first permanent clinic that specialises in cannabis-based medicine as part of the government’s effort to establish a medical cannabis industry in the country.

“This is a pilot clinic, because we cannot produce enough doctors with expertise in cannabis,” said Thai Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul at the clinic’s opening as quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday (6/1).

The pilot clinic, Mr Charnvirakul added, is expected to treat 200 to 300 patients daily. In total, the Thai government is planning to build 77 medical cannabis clinics across the country with at least one in each province.

Thailand officially legalised the use of medical marijuana in 2017, leveraging the country’s tradition of using cannabis to treat pain and fatigue to drive agricultural income. Since the legalisation, 25 cannabis clinics have been established by general hospitals around the country, although they still suffer from a lack of specialists.

The Thai Ministry of Health’s Government Pharmaceutical Organisation is currently the country’s largest producer of medical cannabis, with production, cultivation, and sale still limited to licensed local producers. Currently only hospitals and research facilities are allowed to apply for cannabis production permits, although the government is open to the possibility of also allowing businesses to apply for permits. (MS)