By Pratch Rujivanarom
A PROMINENT practitioner of traditional medicine, Decha Siriphat, yesterday declared war on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), saying he had tried to register his traditional cannabinoid medicines but was turned down, and one of his staff members was arrested.
He added that the arrest of Pornchai Chulert, an officer at Khaw Kwan Foundation, was an act of bullying and said he that would go the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) today to vouch for Pornchai’s innocence and clear all legal issues over the registration of his cannabinoid medicines. Decha was speaking to reporters yesterday, soon after getting off a plane at Don Mueang Airport.
“I have been engaged with cannabinoid medicines personally for more than a decade now and have been using my knowledge to produce traditional medicines and distribute them among patients in need,” he said.
“Since the new Narcotics Act allows the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, I authorised one of my coordinators to register with the FDA before I left for Laos. But the officers decided to raid my office first, arrest Pornchai and seize all the medicines.”
He added that this was an unacceptable abuse of power, as they were still within the amnesty period for cannabis users. Hence, he said, he would not keep quiet and would fight back.
The registration of his cannabinoid medicines was turned down, as the FDA claimed Decha could not prove he was a traditional medicine practitioner. So, Decha said, he will go to the ONCB to claim ownership of the seized medicines and hear the charges in person.
“This arrest proves that medical cannabis is not actually legal and free in Thailand, so we will work with activists, politicians and other stakeholders to further liberalise medical cannabis and ensure that everyone has easy access to marijuana-based medication,” he said.
“I insist that it is every patient’s fundamental right to access the medicines they need to cure their sickness, and this right must be above any outdated laws.”
Meanwhile, Supattra Boonserm, FDA’s deputy secretary-general, said her organisation did not have the authority to comment on the arrest and the case, adding her agency was only tasked with considering registration requests.
“We want to remind those who possess and use cannabinoid drugs to register with the FDA within the 90-day period, which expires on May 19,” Supattra said.
“We confirm that we are not benefiting any groups or companies specifically, as anyone who is qualified can be allowed to grow cannabis and produce medicines.”