Thailand’s public health ministry has partnered with a private Thai cannabis research company to set up the International Medical Cannabis Research Center, the country’s latest step to strengthen its position as medical cannabis producer.
The ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with RxLeaf World Medica on Nov. 10 to establish the medical research hub that will bring together international experts to conduct product research and development, as well as provide knowledge of medical pot to Thai partners.
To recover from the economic toll of the Covid-19 pandemic, the head of Thailand’s health ministry has pointed to the potential of medical cannabis revenues, and the research centre is one of the catalysts that could support recovery.
In a statement Monday, Amara Asia Company Limited, which owns RxLeaf World Medica, noted Asia’s projected cannabis market is estimated at about US$12.5 billion by 2024.
“Therefore, this is a tremendous opportunity for the country as Thailand has both the personnel and physical capability and potential to accept this challenge,” reads the statement.
“Creating a medical and wellness tourism hub will attract those who prefer integrative medicine and plant-based products such as those developed from herbs for cancer or seizure patients, as well as cosmetics and dietary supplements. Additionally, these products will add value to the food and drink market and allow both farmers and entrepreneurs to grow and develop sustainable products.”
Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul said the goal for Thailand is to become a “world-class” production and development site.
“In 2022, the Ministry of Public Health also emphasizes the policy to promote the development of herbs, cannabis, hemp, kratom and Thai wisdom,” he said earlier this month.
“The department of medicine plays an important role in the development of medicinal cannabis plants to create jobs, careers, income and patients have access to medical marijuana as an alternative treatment. This will help patients have a better quality of life.”
Thailand relies on domestic research to change its laws, which advocates have said contributes to a longer timeline for cannabis reform. But the centre could help speed up the process.
On top of cannabis research, the centre will act as a knowledge exchange between medical institutions in other countries, such as Canada, the Netherlands and Japan, Charnvirakul said.
The cooperation period is set for three years and sub-memorandums will be signed on a case-by-case basis to determine the proportion of contributors to intellectual property rights.
Charnvirakul has said cannabis in Thailand will soon become a cash crop, and promised further access to cannabis.