Medical Marijuana in Thailand: What is it and How Can You Use it?

Medical marijuana oil and a prescription

Medical marijuana is going from red to blooming green in Thailand

We all know that cannabis has a long history of being used as alternative medicine. It has been the case for thousands of years and now, it is also gaining legal recognition.

In 2019, Thailand became the first South-East Asian country to legalise medical marijuana. This is mainly driven by the fact that cannabis plants are helpful to treat a variety of health conditions – and the same is backed by scientific research and studies.

However, when it comes to medical cannabis, people are still not sure about what it is and how it works. Whether it is about its legality or just the basic concept, many Thais are still in the dark.

Here at Bloom, we will clear the air and tell you all there is to know about medical marijuana in the country.

What is medical marijuana?

Indoor growing of marijuana

Medical marijuana refers to using cannabis plants or chemicals in it to treat health conditions or diseases, usually upon a prescription by a physician/doctor. It is the same product as recreational marijuana like joints and edibles, except it treats specific conditions.

As you know, cannabis plants contain well over 100 different compounds known as cannabinoids. Each of them has a different effect on the body.

From the context of medical cannabis, two well-known cannabinoids are used – THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is the psychoactive compound that causes the high sensation, while CBD is the more laid back and chill that does not cause any high or crazy feeling. That’s why medical marijuana with THC requires a doctor’s note to buy.

Both these compounds are associated with plenty of benefits – one of the several reasons doctors in Thailand prescribe cannabis medications.

In the West and the United States, medical marijuana has given rise to several US FDA approved cannabis medications like:

  • Epidiolex: CBD-based medication used to treat epilepsy seizures associated with treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome, or tuberous sclerosis.
  • Nabilone: THC-based medicine used to treat nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy
  • Dronabinol: Similar to Nabilone in use, in addition, it is also prescribed to stimulate appetite for AIDS-related weight loss, chronic pain, and sleep apnea
  • Nabaximols: Brand name Sativex, this is a well-known cannabis-based medicine that contains equal parts of THC and CBD. It is prescribed for chronic and neuropathic pain associated with cancer, multiple sclerosis

When can you use medical marijuana?

Person holding marijuana leaves

Your doctor may prescribe medical cannabis for more serious ailments or to ease the symptoms of certain diseases. In many cases, marijuana may even prove to be a more effective solution than traditional, expensive medicines.

A few examples are mentioned below:

  • Cancer symptoms and pain: Vomiting and nausea are two of chemotherapy’s most common side effects. Research has shown cannabis can be useful in easing these symptoms in cancer patients. Moreover, it can also induce hunger and increase appetite.
  • Pain relief:Cannabis for pain is one of the most popular reasons why people use this wonder plant. From severe and chronic pain to pain from multiple sclerosis, cancer, and other diseases, marijuana has proven itself to be a highly effective remedy.
  • Epilepsy and seizures: Another medical use of marijuana is to treat epilepsy episodes and seizures. There is plenty of research that proves CBD can greatly help control seizures by decreasing their frequency in patients.
  • Anxiety, depression, stress: A lot of people take CBD for anxiety and stress – all for the right reasons. Even smoking a joint can relax you after a long day at work. Why? Because cannabis has properties that can help reduce your stress and anxiety levels and make you calm overall.

In addition to these use cases, doctors may also prescribe medical marijuana for improper sleep, muscle spasms, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and Crohn’s disease.

How to use medical marijuana?

Medical marijuana is legal in Thailand, but heavily regulated. If you want to add cannabis to your existing medication, you can do so after getting a prescription.

Clinics & hospitals

The standard procedure in clinics also starts with getting the prescription. You will need to tell a doctor exactly what you need to get treated for, as well as submit your personal details and identification proof. After you get the prescription, you bring it to a designated clinic/store where you can buy the medicines. The price for 5ml cannabis oil from a clinic is around THB 3,000.

Cannabis-based medications in Thailand are permitted to treat diseases and not to be used recreationally. The Thai FDA together with the Ministry of Public Health regularly monitors the use and effects of medical marijuana in patients with prescriptions.

It is also worth knowing that the prescribed cannabis medicine may not have the right concentration needed to reduce the symptoms in some cases. In such cases, it is natural to gradually switch up the dosage.

In general terms, you can consume medical marijuana by:

  • Eating it
  • Applying it on your skin
  • Smoking by inhaling through a vaporiser or a ciggarette
  • Placing a few drops of oil under your tongue

The only way of ingesting medical marijuana legally in Thailand is by consuming oil. There are no dispensaries where you can buy flowers and smoke them.

You can find a map of all cannabis clinics here.

The status of CBD as medical marijuana

Products that do not contain more than 0.2% THC by weight can be sold and purchased legally from any shop across the country.

These include CBD-infused items like coconut cannabidiol oil, gummies, tea, butter, etc. In fact, CBD is well-tolerated in all doses and can be consumed orally with ease. Many patients are using CBD-based remedies to treat their health problems. 

You do not need any doctor’s prescription to buy or use CBD products.

Side effects

Side effects of cannabis can include drowsiness, fatigue, increased heartbeat, low blood pressure, hallucinations, slow reaction time, increased appetite, dizziness, the potential for addiction, and a loss of motor skills.

Most of these side effects are linked with THC rather than CBD. THC is psychoactive and causes a high sensation. As good as it may be, it is often associated with negative effects like impairment of motor skills, paranoia, loss of time perception, reducing your brain power, etc.

Long term side effects are still debated since it is difficult to perform research on a controlled and sometimes illegal substance. But what can be concluded is memory impairment, worsen the course of illness in persons who already have schizophrenia and other mental health disorders.

Parting thoughts

CBD and THC oil

Medical marijuana is becoming more accessible in Thailand although, not many people are fully aware of how to use it. Then, there is also the matter of concentration, obtaining a doctor’s prescription, and pricing.

If you are looking for something better suited for overall well-being without the THC, you may want to look at CBD oil too – this one doesn’t require any license to consume.

In either case, cannabis can help you improve the quality of your life. Our forefathers have used it for generations – now with a dedicated field of study behind it, the reasons to make a try are more evident.