FDA wants cannabis put on its list of essential medicines

Cannabis-infused drinks are among the products being showcased at the official opening of the Ministry of Public Health's Institute of Medical Cannabis. Pornprom Satrabhaya

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is pushing to expedite the listing of cannabis in the National List of Essential Medicines and for food product use, its deputy secretary-general Supattra Boonserm said.

She said the FDA committee on Monday approved the draft of minister of public health ordinance that places cannabis on the National List of Essential Medicines as well as allowing it to be used as ingredients in food products.

"Users can put oil extracts from cannabis in breakfast cereals, bakery products, beverages, snacks or butter as well as in food supplements," Ms Supattra told the media in a press briefing on Monday.

Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the FDA's move is intended to ensure its availability to those who need it.

Speaking at the official opening of the Institute of Medical Cannabis, Mr Anutin said since the Public Health Ministry approved the use of cannabis and hemp for medical and research purposes, more than 50,000 patients have been prescribed cannabis-based treatments by licenced health professionals.

At present, he added, there are over 300 community enterprises which have joined hands with the ministry to grow cannabis and hemp for medical and research purposes.

To ensure the sustainable supply of cannabis for patients and promote further research into hemp-based products, the FDA will push to speed up their inclusion in the National List of Essential Medicines, he said.

"The efficacy and safety of medical cannabis will continue to be reviewed, and the findings will be used to support further changes to medical cannabis laws," he added.

According to Mr Anutin, the Institute of Medical Cannabis will serve as the coordinating agency to help ensure the use of cannabis-based products by public health agencies and community enterprises is in line with the existing government policies.

"The institute will also provide accurate information about the plants and their use, as public interest in the plants have grown, he added.

According to the minister, households can grow six cannabis plants each, but they must first obtain permission from a local hospital.

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