Chiang Mai university makes Thailand the first Asian country to grow its own breed of medical cannabis

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Chiang Mai’s Maejo University has succeeded in creating the first Thai-bred, industrial-grade medical cannabis, giving Thailand the distinction of becoming the first country in Asia to develop a proprietary breed of the plant for medical use, a government official reports.

Anutin Charnvirakul, a deputy prime minister and public health minister, made the announcement while visiting Maejo’s Natural Agriculture Research and Development Centre this weekend.

“This project is a collaboration between Maejo University, the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation [GPO], and the Department of Medical Science since June,” Anutin told Asia One on Saturday. “We expect to deliver 2.4 tonnes of dried cannabis to the GPO to produce cannabis-based drugs by February next year.”

Anutin said the accomplishment has been long time coming thanks to the hard work of the university’s researchers, who have spent countless hours developing organic, pesticide-free means of outdoor growing that the school hopes could potentially be used in small, community-based cannabis farms sometime in the near future.

“We aim to perfect a technique where a household can grow six cannabis plants in their yard and use them safely for medical purposes,” Anutin said. “Maejo’s breed is strong and of high quality that contains both cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol, two natural compounds that have medical benefits in the preferred quantity.”

Dr. Anat Tancho, director of the Natural Agriculture Research and Development Centre, said that Maejo’s cultivation plans hinge on the development of an ideal growing environment in order to refine the quality and efficacy of the cannabis grown on site.

“We follow the standards of IFOAM [International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements] and USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] organic standard,” said Dr. Anat. “Moreover, since marijuana is still a narcotic plant, we also strictly adhere to the GSP [Good Security Practices] to ensure full compliance with the law.”

Thailand is quickly emerging as the most cannabis-friendly country in Asia, and has been gradually loosening restrictions surrounding the drug for some time. A recent proposed law would allow Thais to grow up to six plants at home for medical consumption and allow plants to be sold to licensed institutions.

“The principle is for medical use. You can have it at home for ailments, but not smoke it on the street,” senior Bhumjaithai Party legislator Supachai Jaisamut told Reuters earlier this month.

Recreational cannabis remains strictly prohibited in Thailand. Penalties for possession can range from a heavy fine to up to a decade in prison.

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