By: Michelle Liew
The relaxation of cannabis-related laws by the Thai government means a lot to Jiratti Kuttanam, as she is now has a cheaper supply of products available to use in reducing the discomfort stemming from her breast cancer treatment.
Thailand became the first Asian country to allow the private cultivation and consumption of marijuana – a move which authorities say will boost agricultural activity as farmers can generate new income.
Jiratti, 42, told Reuters that she and other patients have experienced the positive effects of medical marijuana.
While medical marijuana has been legal in the country since 2018, prior to the amendement, she had to rely on expensive imported products. This led to some of the patients (spurred on by financial constraints) approaching distributors on the black market.
Imported cannabis costs 700 Baht (RM87) per gram, but the price have since halved, Jiratti explained.
“I use cannabis so that I don’t have to feel sick,” she said while mixing and boiling cannabis leaves to make tea, giving her one-room apartment unit a unique scent.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago. Two years later, she began using cannabis oil and other products to reduce her pain (a side effect of chemotherapy), which often caused vomiting, lethargy, and anxiety.
A government-approved local cannabis crop means that patients will hopefully be able to get a more reliable supply, depending on their knowledge of how to use it.
“I think education is important. You need to learn how to use it properly. It can have bad effects. It can also be dangerous,” she said.
The easing of restrictions in Thailand does not, however, mean that it is free for all to use. Last week, a new law was enacted to ban the smoking of marijuana and its sale to those under the age of 20, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.