While cannabis remains categorised as an illegal substance in Malaysia, our neighbours up north have accepted the health benefits of the plant unofficially for centuries, and last year, have legalised medical marijuana.
Being the only nation with medical marijuana in Southeast Asia, a study conducted by the Government Pharmaceuticals Organisation (GPO) – a Thai state enterprise which manufactures pharmaceutical products in Thailand – has shown that patients, including those with cancer, have benefited from cannabis extract treatment.
The GPO distributed medical marijuana products to public and private hospitals in August last year and subsequently conducted its studies.
According to NST, GPO specialist Nanthakan Suwanpidokkul said the Prasat Neurological Institute and Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health Institute discovered that symptoms had improved in 10 out of 16 children, or 62%, with difficult to treat and intractable epilepsy.
In another report by Bangkok Post, the Prasat Neurological Institute also found that five out of seven multiple sclerosis patients who did not respond to standard treatments were improving while being treated with the products.
The National Cancer Institute reported that 14 terminal cancer patients who received palliative treatment saw their pain reduced by more than 60% and had more appetite, gained weight and slept better.
The Department of Medical Services gave cannabis products and standard medicine to 42 terminal cancer patients at its medical cannabis clinics in provinces for a month and found similar results.
Most patients responded to cannabis treatment positively without any serious side effects like dry lips and throats, confusions, headaches and palpitations, nausea or vomiting.
Cannabis treatment was also given to 16 Parkinson patients at Sakonnakhon Hospital in Sakon Nakhon province for three months and their conditions improved. Most of them slept better and experienced a better quality of life with no memory impacts.
According to Wikipedia, the history of medical cannabis dates back to ancient times and was widely used in China, India, Egypt, Greece and the medieval Islamic world, amongst other ancient civilisations. The Malaysian cabinet also discussed the medicinal value of marijuana in a September 2018 meeting and last year, expressed its desire to decriminalise drug possession for personal use.