Meet the Thai doctor-author who says marijuana can cure cancer

Dermatologist Dr. Somyot Kittimunkong, 51, made headlines recently when he released his new book, Marijuana is Medicine That Cures Cancer, in which he advocates the use of marijuana to aid patients suffering from cancer—the no. 1 killer in Thailand for 13 consecutive years. Here, he chats to BK about the possibility of legalizing marijuana in Thailand for medicinal use.

What drove you to write a book about marijuana’s medicinal benefits?

My younger brother had cancer. I tried many ways to find a cure for him, and spent years studying research from other countries that clearly shows that marijuana can cure cancer. I have a strong desire to tell Thais to stop viewing it only as a narcotic. Marijuana can save lives. It’s an alternative medicine.

What do you say to people who are sceptical of alternative medicines?

There are many cancer doctors who turn to alternative medicines when they grow old. After 30-40 years’ work, they know that no matter how hard they try to cure a patient with conventional medicine, the patient will still die. Medical research has proved many times that weed works, but it has taken a decade for that research to make it into textbooks. Japan filed patents to make marijuana a medicine in 2013 and mitragynine [kratom, a plant with potential medicinal effects] in 2014. The UK has filed similar patents for marijuana as well.

How likely is it that Thailand will follow their example?

Though Thailand has actually drafted a new medicine act that paves the way for medical marijuana, the content inside is not strong. It says in article 76 that patients can only use formulary cannabis, instead of saying we can use herbal cannabis. This is important. Many countries use the wording herbal cannabis because it allows people to produce it themselves. Instead, the Thai system will force people to pay money for expensive medicine that does not exist yet. No other country in the world has made this silly move. How long will we have to pay for this stupid cost? Thailand already loses too much of its human resources to cancer at great expense thanks to conventional medicine.

So what is our best option here?

We should legalize marijuana and allow people to grow it themselves for medicinal purposes, as well as sell it to make medicine. Normal marijuana already sells at B50,000 per kilogram and the price will go up about 3-4 times if it’s used for medicine. It’s truly the gold you can grow in your backyard! We have been brainwashed for 40 years into thinking it’s a narcotic when in fact it’s not. It’s even used to treat drug addicts. I recently realized that there are groups currently using cannabis for their cancer only they can’t reveal themselves because it’s illegal!

Are you concerned legalizing marijuana will have any negative social impact?

I think people are smart enough to use it correctly. We can create rules to protect its usage but we need to cure people who are dying first.