My first adventure into one of Thailand's new public hospital Cannabis Clinics yesterday was quite the eye-opener. I've have soooo many people asking questions about who can access, what it's like, what it costs and how to go about it, that documenting our journey seemed like an important community service.
Image credit: www.thaicbd.info
Thailand now has 37 public health Cannabis Clinics - you can find the list, locations and details of ALL the clinics via the English language website https://thaicbd.info
We live in Chiang Mai and the closest clinic is at Nakorn Ping Hospital in Mae Rim. Despite the advertised clinic hours of 1pm on Wednesdays, I went a day earlier to confirm the process in Thai language, since my friend is extremely unwell and I wanted to minimize any unnecessary hours waiting and aggravation. I also wanted to be sure exactly where to go since it's an enormous and VERY busy, big public hospital. I'm glad I did that because it saved a lot of hassle and enabled me to clarify the process.
The Cannabis Clinics treat both Thai and non-Thai (farang) patients without discrimination.
First things first. The Cannabis Clinics treats a defined set of conditions. You can't just buy their CBD oil, self prescribe or demand it. The clinic's doctor asked me to specifically clarify that. You MUST have a confirmed doctor's diagnosis or recommendation. To that end, my friend was asked to bring his cancer diagnosis documentation, latest scans or test results and his passport.
The conditions the Thai Cannabis Clinics will prescribe CBD oils for are:
- Addiction withdrawal symptoms
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Bed sores
- Bone fractures
- Cerebral palsy (children)
- Chirrosis of liver
- Crohn’s disease
- Demyelinating disease
- Hypertension (High blood pressure)
- Menstrual cramp
- Opiate addiction
- Parkinson’s disease
- PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Reaction stress
- Tourrette’s syndrome
If you don't have a confirmed diagnosis, you WILL need to see a doctor at the hospital FIRST, before you can be referred to the Cannabis Clinic. As I said, bring up to date medical records with you to short-circuit this process.
The Nakorn Ping Hospital's Cannabis Clinic is the only one in the city of Chiang Mai, and is located in the main building of the hospital. Just go in through the main doors at the top of the ramp.
Despite the Clinic being advertised as 1pm, the hospital had asked us to come at 8.30am.
Present yourself to the main desk and DO NOT ask for the Cannabis Clinic. 🤣 First cultural hurdle. 🤣 Despite me speaking Thai and being quite clear what I wanted - the CANNABIS Clinic - the receptionist looked blank. It was only when the senior nurse manager overheard me asking that she laughed.
"Oh, you want the GANJA Clinic!"
So ask at the front desk for the Ganja Clinic. That's what it's called in Thai.
Present your medical records to the Nurse supervising reception. If you are not already a patient of Nakorn Ping Hospital you'll be required to register - you simply need your Thai ID card or passport, your registered address and phone number.
If all is in order re medical records, you will be sent straight up to the Cannabis Clinic on Level 2. It's tricky to find. Go straight through Level 2 to the back balcony and turn left. It's at the end of that back balcony, on the left.
If you don't have clear medical records which fit their guidelines, you will have to see a doctor at the hospital first (to confirm you fit the guidelines) and you will have to pay for that. A consult at Nakorn Ping is inexpensive and unlikely to cost more than 300 baht (USD $10) unless there are scans required.
We arrived at the hospital at 8.45am and were settled in the waiting room of the Cannabis Clinic by 9.30am. The nursing and reception staff don't have great English but quite doable if you are a non-Thai person and have no one to assist. The head nurse in the Cannabis Clinic asked routine questions about allergies etc (and struggled with the English for some of it, so a Thai speaking friend IS helpful) and took a blood pressure check.
The Doctor arrived at 10am and we were seen immediately. Of the 7 people waiting in the clinic, only 2 were obviously there for end of life care. It was relaxed, casual and pleasant.
The Doctor spoke excellent English and was informally dressed. No starchy white coats or overly clinical vibe, which was nice.
The doctor is on the left. LOL.
She explained the dosage procedures and their check-up system. A clinician from the hospital pharmacy checks on patients by phone between appointments to double check side effects, symptoms and to answer questions. Patients of the Cannabis Clinic are asked to fill in 2 sets of documents: (1) a passport-like booklet, documenting each dosage. There is a numbered list of possible side-effects and patients simply note the number of any they experience after each dose. The same information is noted onto a separate piece of paper, which is returned to the Clinic at the next appointment. The passport-booklet is bilingual so quite manageable for non-Thai patients.
After my friend got the OK for his CBD oil prescription, we went down to the hospital pharmacy. We had x 2 English speaking clinicians explain the whole dosage and monitoring process to us again; one of the pharmacists is my friend's personal follow up lady. Yes, ALL the doctors and clinic personnel we engaged with were women!! We were instructed that liver toxicity IS a potential issue for patients with high usage or compromised liver function; if my friend experienced liver toxicity symptoms (clearly explained in English several times) he was asked to attend the Emergency Room at the hospital and to bring his dosage record booklet.
My friend was asked to then pay. How much? The TOTAL bill - including his prescribed CBD oil, clinic consult and the daily telephone follow up service - came to 485 Thai baht. USD $14.99.
Now THAT, my friends, is public health care as it should be!!
Safe. Affordable. Local. Monitored. Stress free.
Low income Thai people receive the service for the fixed cost of 30 THB - less than $1. We were out of the hospital by 11.00am.
Very impressed. Highly recommended. If you have questions about using this service in Thailand, please consult https://thaicbd.info or, as I did, simply go and ASK FIRST at the closest location to you. Clinic times and processes obviously may differ slightly by location.
I love traditional Thai herbal medicine and LOVE that the Thai government is not only reclaiming this herbal heritage, but normalizing it.
Join The Best Natural Health Community on Hive