Ministry denies axeing pot study funds

The Ministry of Public Health has dismissed a claim by the Rural Doctor Society alleging that its budget to study cannabis next year has been cancelled.

Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, the ministry’s permanent secretary, said he has ordered the chief of the provincial public health officials to investigate the source of the unverified information.

Dr Pongkasem Kaimook, the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary, will be in charge of the matter.

Dr Opas said the ministry has supported research and studies into the medicinal uses of cannabis since 1999. These have been reviewed and verified by the Department of Medical Services and the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine, resulting in the establishment of official medical guidance for cannabis use for patients, he said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Medical Sciences have already received their respective budgets from other research-funding offices such as the Health Systems Research Institute and Thailand Science Research and Innovation, he added.

Dr Supat Hasuwannakit, chairman of the Rural Doctor Society, said the group posted the message online after it searched the internet and found the government’s website explaining about the fiscal budget BE 2566 contained no budget for cannabis research and study.

“What I did is disseminate the facts to the public, because we have learnt that its budget is very limited,” said Dr Supat, who is also a director at Chana Hospital in Songkhla province.