South Korean and Thai Experts Talks Legalizing Medical Cannabis

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The Petitioners’ experts Sung Seok Kang from South Korea and Pakakrong Kwankhao from Thailand testifying at the judicial review hearing of the Narcotics Law, Tuesday (10/12/2021). Photo by Humas MK/Panji.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021 | 15:37 WIB

JAKARTA, Public Relations—The Petitioners of case No. 106/PUU-XVIII/2020 presented two experts from South Korea and Thailand, who explained the legalization of cannabis for medical therapy in their countries—Korea Medical Cannabis Organization CEO (a Korean cannabis certification organization for medical purposes) Sung Seok Kang and Head of the Center of Evidence-based Thai Traditional and Herbal Medicine in Chao Phya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital Pakakrong Kwankhao.

Kang explained that Korea also has legislation on medical marijuana, which was passed mid-2017 to protect patients, especially children and families, so that they can obtain legality. “Thank goodness in 2018 a new law on psychotropics in medicine was passed,” he said at the material judicial review hearing of Law No. 35 of 2009 on Narcotics.

Also read: The Constitutionality of Type I Narcotics for Medicine

He said the legislatures had discussed legalizing narcotics but cannabis was not among them. However, his organization continued researching medical marijuana with foreign experts.

“Because there was no research in Korea, we tried collaborating with foreign experts in various research, whose results then we submitted to the [National Assembly] to review whether medical marijuana should be legalized or not. It was decided on November 23, 2018 that the bill passed the [assembly],” Kang said at the hearing on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.

He said the Korean government then followed up on the decision by setting up provisions on the use of psychotropics for medicine, which stipulate that only specific individuals or organizations can prescribe them.

“One of them was cannabis. The KOEDC is an organization that has legal power to prescribe drugs that contain psychotropics. This is actually not much different from giving regular prescriptions, but the difference is that the government appoint certain organizations or pharmacies to accept those prescriptions,” he explained.

Also read: CSOs and Mother of Cerebral Palsy Patients Affirm Legal Standing in Case on Narcotics Law

Kang also said that the provisions were based on the WHO’s guidelines, which were based on research from all over the world. However, research on cannabis was limited, so the WHO left it to each country to regulate it. After a lot of research across countries, a procedure to use and purchase this type of medicine was set up in 2020.

He said such drugs were first used as pain treatment for severe illnesses. However, access to them was limited, so their prescriptions were restricted. Their use, he said, refers to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961.

Kang concluded his testimony by saying that not only South Korea but other countries must review the use of illegal drugs such as marijuana and cannabis for medical therapy.

Also read: House Says Legalization of Cannabis for Medical Purposes Different in Each Country

Medical Cannabis in Thailand

The next expert, Kwankhao, said that Thailand legalized medical marijuana one February 2019 as research and use of medical marijuana has increased, especially in treatment for cancer. He also said there has been global movements to legalize marijuana and decriminalize its use.

“There is a high demand for cannabis in Thailand. Before it was legalized, Thai had to resort to the black market to attain unqualified cannabis. We knew that black market products were unqualified and it was bad for the population. Cannabis was actually part of our traditional knowledge,” he explained virtually with interpretation by Miki Rusindaputra Salman.

He then explained that patients who need cannabis for treatment must meet certain requirements and verification by Thai hospitals. Thailand has also listed cannabis among the national essential drugs.

“If the patient meets the medical requirements or indications, they will be able to obtain such drugs from hospitals or healthcare facilities. We also have cannabis extract, be it THC or CBD, or a combination of THC and CBD. We also provide traditional prescriptions that contain cannabis” he explained.

Also read: Asmin Fransiska: Indonesia Misinterpreted Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961

In terms of safety, Thai government through the Ministry of Public Health appointed the Health Service Department to develop guidelines on the medical use of cannabis extract.

“The Department for the Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine also use Thai traditional drug prescriptions under the guidelines. Cannabis can provide patients with benefits if the doctor prescribes medical cannabis. However, Thailand has not set this as a first response, because there has not been enough proof to support this as a first-response use,” Kwankhao stressed.

He also said that in Thai legislation, cannabis belongs is narcotics and only its use for medical research is allowed, and it must be approved by the National Narcotics Committee.

“We have built an ecosystem to ensure public safety. What we mean by ecosystem is that we’ve trained our health workers, our healthcare professionals, and we also require them to register with the government, and get qualified medical cannabis products to patients. We also built an electronic data system to monitor the safety and effectiveness of products, and we always report that to the health database at the Ministry of Public Health and which products are used,” he stressed.

Also read: Stephen Rolles: All Medicine Have Risks

The case No. 106/PUU-XVIII/2020 was filed by Dwi Pertiwi, Santi Warastuti, Nafiah Murhayanti, Perkumpulan Rumah Cemara, the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), and the Community Legal Aid Institute (LBHM) (Petitioners I-VI). They requested the material judicial review of the elucidation to Article 6 paragraph (1) letter a and Article 8 paragraph (1) of the Narcotics Law, which prohibits cannabis use for medical purposes. They believe this has harmed their constitutional rights as it kept the Petitioners’ children from receiving treatment that can improve their health and quality of life.

Writer        : Utami Argawati
Editor        : Lulu Anjarsari P.
PR            : M. Halim
Translator  : Yuniar Widiastuti (NL)

Translation uploaded on 10/12/2021 16:38 WIB

Disclaimer: The original version of the news is in Indonesian. In case of any differences between the English and the Indonesian versions, the Indonesian version will prevail.