Thailand is looking at the next steps to become a medical marijuana hub in the region. Legislators, state officials, health experts, drug and narcotic enforcement agencies as well as the National Farmers Council have voiced support for decriminalization of soft drugs such as marijuana by legalizing plantations of the green herb for medical research and medicinal use.
The Food and Drug Administration of the Public Health Ministry opposes the idea, saying more debate is needed. Under existing Thai law, marijuana is illegal to consume or possess for any reason.
The Thai government recently approved a five-year pilot project to commercially grow hemp for medicinal use. Hemp - called "kanchong" in Thai - is a variety from the same species as marijuana but is not suitable for smoking.
At the Special Clinic in Bangkok, Doctor Somnuk Siripanthong offers Medical Cannabis Therapy and provides marijuana as treatment for cancer patients in the form of cannabis oils.
These oils are unofficially certified and produced by Thai ganja guru and marijuana activist Buntoon Niyamabha.
The thick, green liquid he ladled into small glass containers on Monday is a balm he makes as part of his marijuana-based medical products.
Buntoon's own relatives suffer from cancer and he convinced them to use marijuana as treatment. The activist and former policeman enjoys smoking marijuana, and learned online how to set up a laboratory with homemade equipment inside his house.
In addition to cannabis oil for cancer treatment, he also makes a balm, toothpaste and soap made from illicitly imported marijuana he bought from a neighboring country.
Almost on a daily basis, Buntoon, with help of his family, cooks and extracts kilos of marijuana that he purchased illegally to produce the oil.
Part of the process of making the balm, toothpaste and soap includes drying the marijuana after cooking it and mixing it with essential oils.
Speaking at his Bangkok home, Buntoon told epa that he produces and donates to cancer patients and families with children who suffer from epilepsy trauma more than 100 bottles of the pain-relieving oil every month.
These people need medical treatment for their ailments but lack the financial means to pay for it.
The Medical Cannabis Therapy at the Special Clinic uses the cannabis oil treatment for most patients who are diagnosed with cancer as well as other diseases.
The treatment involves dropping the cannabis oil under the patient's tongue or using the marijuana oil as an enema.
One recipient of the marijuana therapy is Wichan Thongsawas, 87, a skin cancer survivor. He has taken cannabis oil drops under his tongue and also used it as a skin lotion to relieve pain and even to combat the cancer.
Wichan told epa that marijuana therapy can be effective in patients who haven't yet had chemotherapy and whose cancers have advanced even to stage 4.
Various international medical researchers have found that marijuana can be used to alleviate pain and treat the symptoms of several ailments including cancer.
Doctors and medical experts around the world are now recognizing cannabis for medical use to treat many types of cancer, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, muscle weakness, multiple sclerosis, a demyelinating disease and diabetes.