Thailand’s first cannabis clinic opened on Monday (Jan 6) and was flooded with patients after the country became the first in Asia to legalise medicinal use of the drug.
Hundreds of patients converged on the government run facility in Bangkok – which already has a waiting list of more than 2,000.
The pilot clinic, based in the Ministry of Public Health, expects to see between 200 to 300 patients daily.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirankul said today that patients would receive free treatment for the first two weeks. He said: ”This is a pilot clinic, because we cannot produce enough doctors with expertise in cannabis.”
The Southeast Asian country legalised marijuana for medical use and research in 2017. While in 2019 it removed cannabis and hemp extracts from its banned drugs list and pushed laws allowing each household to grow up to six plants.
In a protectionist move to boost the country’s economy, only domestic drugs firms and farmers will be able to supply the country’s network of clinics.
Health Minister Anutin Charnvirankul said there were already around two dozen smaller non-specialist cannabis centres that form part of general hospitals that see patients sporadically.
But the clinic he opened today (Jan 6) is the first one that will be the first full-time facility staffed by doctors who are experts in medicinal marijuana, he said.
Thailand plans to open 77 similar clinics in the future – one in each of its provinces.