Thailand cautiously reopens door to weed

Volunteers preparing medical cannabis oil at a seminar in Nakhon Ratchasima. Much remains to be understood about the long-term effects of ingesting marijuana, and what illnesses it can really cure.
Ms Piyamart Srisawat, 43, embracing her 10-year-old daughter Teerakarn Srisawat, a cerebral palsy patient. Until about five years ago, Teerakarn had seizures several times a day and had difficulty swallowing food, despite numerous hospital visits to address the issue. Her mother says she then fed her child medical cannabis oil. ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE
Volunteers preparing medical cannabis oil at a seminar in Nakhon Ratchasima. Much remains to be understood about the long-term effects of ingesting marijuana, and what illnesses it can really cure.
Volunteers preparing medical cannabis oil at a seminar in Nakhon Ratchasima. Much remains to be understood about the long-term effects of ingesting marijuana, and what illnesses it can really cure.ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE

Medical cannabis legal, but supply limited by rule that only govt-linked entities can grow it

NAKHON RATCHASIMA (Thailand)• • "Would you like to try it?" the young man says when he notices me peering at the cannabis joint held between his fingers. "It's good for your health." Behind him, a dark green banner declares: "Meet People with Experience in Kancha".

It's May 18, in this small resort some four hours from Bangkok. Marijuana advocate and former policeman Buntoon Niyamabha sprinkles cannabis seeds into the palms of seminar participants. His aide warms an acrid paste of cannabis flowers and alcohol, enough to produce dozens of vials of potent essence. In the sunlit courtyard, people sip cannabis tea over conversation. No one is really worried about the police turning up.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2019, with the headline 'Thailand cautiously reopens door to weed'. Print Edition | Subscribe