Thailand’s Rangsit University Sees Business Case For Marihuana Products
Aug 02, 2019

Rangsit University, a private university in Pathum Thani, Thailand which is one of the few educational institutions licensed by the Thai government to research on the medical use of marijuana and develop respective products, is positive on the development of marihuana as a business case in the country according to international trends.

“We believe that marihuana products have great potential in Thailand,” said Arthit Urairat, president of Rangsit University, which focuses – apart from information technology, music and design – mainly on public health and agriculture.

“Marihuana has been in use since 400 years in Thailand, a country producing a high quality of the plant. It has only been illegal over the past 40 years or so and is now coming back. This is the reason why Rangsit University is focusing on developing marihuana products for medical use,” Urairat said.

Rangsit University was the first university in the country requesting for permission to do cannabis research legally in 2016 and was also the first one to be authorised the following year. It also got permission to cultivate its own marihuana plants for increase its supply.

The government has been a bit wary about marihuana research and product development and has so far granted only permission to public organisations to produce marihuana-related products over a period of five years. For that, however, it has to recourse to private research institutions such as Rangsit University.

Meanwhile, the College of Pharmacy of the university has launched four prototypes of medical marihuana products, namely cannabis oil, cannabis wafer tablets, cannabinol oral spray and the so-called Phrasa-Kancha recipe, all of which are building upon the proven anti-cancer and anti-pain effects of both core compounds of marihuana, tretrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinol (CBD), whereby THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of marihuana and CBD is a non-intoxicating compound with pain and anxiety controlling effects.

According to Dr. Aphirada Sukhanphan, who together with assistant professor Dr. Surang Leelawat has developed the cannabinol oral spray, has conducted a number of animal tests that showed the efficiency of THC and CBD to treat lung cancer in humans. The oral spray can also be used to treat insomnia, while cannabis oil is a pain reliever. Cannabis Wafer tablet have a positive effect in the fight against oral infections, and Phrasa-Kancha Recipe, a traditional Thai medicine concept, combines cannabis with medicinal herbs in accordance with traditional textbooks and is also said to be effective against several diseases.

Rangsit University is currently using about 40 kilogrammes of marihuana confiscated by drug authorities to do its studies on the plant. In the future, however, it will not only increase its own cultivation output, but also buy higher-quality stuff from farming cooperatives for the next research cycle for which 500 kilogrammes of marihuana are needed.

Rangsit’s president Urairat is convinced that the reception of those innovative products by the health system will lead to a further easing of marihuana legislation in Thailand.

“We believe that the five-year period [during which only public organisations are allowed to produce marihuana products] will be reduced to possibly 2.5 years,” he said.

“This is the case for private investment in the sector which is likely to grow,” he added, “and also avoiding the formation of a state-held monopoly.”

Furthermore, the university is pulling its weight behind civil and grass root movements advocating the decriminalisation of marihuana for recreational use and is also supports the idea of allowing household growth of marihuana plants like Canada does, a lobbying drive that seeks legal changes in Thailand’s current marihuana policy.

Other representatives of Rangsit University are believing that changes in the marihuana legislation in Thailand will happen “soon” after lawmakers have acknowledged that the plant is nothing less than a “national asset” and an innovation driver for both the agriculture and health sectors. In that case, the non-intoxicating compound CDB will likely liberalised first, the experts assume.

Rangsit University is also the first educational institution in Thailand that offers cannabis science courses. They focus on the development of innovative cannabis products for medical purposes and are organised by the university’s Faculty of Agricultural Innovation.

“Personnel in this field is in short supply and in high demand,” said Dr Banyat Setthiti, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Innovation, adding that “students who complete this programme can become a new generation of farm entrepreneurs working both in the country and overseas.”