Thailand legalised medical cannabis at around the same time as the UK (late 2018). But while British patients are rarely actually prescribed cannabis, a medical clinic offering free cannabis oil to patients recently opened in Thailand.
The opening of the Bangkok clinic, which had over 400 patients visiting on its first day, highlights the stark difference between each country’s approach to medical cannabis.
Top priority for Thailand
The Thai government has made medical cannabis a top priority in 2019, marked by the opening of the first cannabis clinic in the kingdom. The government also subsidised free treatment for patients for the first two weeks.
The clinic offers cannabis oil to treat everything from muscle pains to cancer. They even have a cannabis leaf mascot on site.
There are plans to open a total of 77 cannabis clinics across Thailand, according to the country’s Ministry of Public Health. There are already about 25 cannabis clinics attached to hospitals around the country but they only operate for a few days a week due to a lack of trained medical professionals.
By 2024, it’s predicted that Asia’s medical cannabis market could be worth around $5.8 billion, according to market analyst Prohibition Partners.
Last year, Thailand also proposed a draft law that would allow each household to grow six cannabis plants.
Lack of action in UK
In the UK, on the other hand, a medical cannabis prescription is a rarer jewell. Although the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended last year that medical cannabis should be available on the NHS, it’s proved almost impossible to actually get a prescription.
In fact, only about 50 have been given, and these were all private prescription. None have been prescribed by NHS doctors. This has led many patients to illegally obtain cannabis-based therapies.
Even in the last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was slated for reneging on a pre-election promise to meet Scottish National Party MP and medical cannabis supporter to discuss a review of how children who suffer from epilepsy access medical cannabis.