The indoor farm, located in Pathum Thani province just north of Bangkok, cost a hefty price tag of $3.1 million to make, which was provided by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO). It’s over 100 square meters large, which is expensive considering all the money that went into it, and utilizes an aeroponic cannabis growing system where the plants are exposed to pink lights for some 20 hours a day. That’s not all: this state-of-the-art facility also uses high-end scanners and other types of gadgets to prevent theft.
The farm is expected to produce their first batch in July: 2,500 bottles of 5 ml sublingual cannabis drops that are intended for use to treat allergies.
Thailand’s new law is an effort of the military government to regulate the medical marijuana industry. Based on their law, only official government agencies will be allowed to grow cannabis. It’s also a priority for the authorities that they are able to make cannabis-based drugs that would be affordable to the patients who need them the most.
During the opening ceremony, Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn disclosed that the country has taken the first steps necessary for developing their very own patented medicines. Even though the government already legalized cannabis for medical use, they still don’t have their own supply, he said.
“Five years period from now will be the decisive moment for our country to determine whether we were able to catch up with the advanced medical cannabis innovation and technology of other countries and the transnational pharmaceutical giants, and enjoy cheap and widely accessible cannabis medicines,” he said.
“Or did we fail to develop our own medicines from cannabis and have to rely on the foreign pharmaceutical firms for expensive imported cannabis medicines,” he asked. “With our new indoor cannabis farm, invested in and operated by GPO, we can harvest high-quality medical grade cannabis,” he explains. The plants will be used by academic partners of the GPO and the GPO themselves in order to extract substrates for research and making affordable sublingual cannabis oil.
“Because we need a very high quality and organic cannabis for our research and development, we have to spend a lot to create a closed environment farming facility,” Dr. Sakolsatayadorn explained. “This is to assure that our cannabis crop will be chemicals free and safe for producing medicines.”
Even though he acknowledged that Thailand lagged behind in terms of cannabis technology, he goes on to explain that the next five years will be a crucial time for the country to work on developing their own cannabis technology.
“The plantation is operated in a well-protected closed system which will enhance the quality of extracts to get the best substance,” he told reporters.
Thailand More Progressive Than We Thought
In other news, the Thai government has started a campaign to give amnesty on cannabis crimes. According to Justice Minister ACM Prajin Juntong, cannabis can only be used for medicinal purposes. A series of public relations campaigns have been launched by the Ministry of Public Health with the purpose of educating the public of that cannabis can only be used medicinally.
They urge individuals who are in possession of cannabis to report to the FDA before May 19th, which is when the 90-day amnesty period will expire. For this, the ministry established a “One Stop Service” center to help them with the process, and so far, 5,000 people have stepped forward.
Additionally, they will be allowing each household to grow a maximum of 6 cannabis plants. The government has also created a committee to investigate the issue on a national scale, emphasizing that cannabis is still illegal in the country.
Cannabis legalization in Thailand is moving full steam ahead, but it isn’t without controversy. Cannabis has always been treated as a narcotic, in a country that has gained notoriety around the world for their harsh drug laws. It took the world by surprise when the National Legislative Assembly last year approved a law which enabled cannabis to be used for medical purposes.
Cannabis offers new hope to patients in Thailand’s medical industry, and hopefully they set the pace for other Asian nations to follow.