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“Don’t rush to legalise marijuana”

The Thaiger & The Nation

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“Don’t rush to legalise marijuana” | The Thaiger

by Chularat Saengpassa

A medical lecturer is cautioning policy-makers against rushing to legalise marijuana, even if it’s just for medical use.

“Beware of becoming stupid, poor and hurt” read the title of a social-media comment posted by Assistant Professor Dr Thira Woratanarat in response to calls to fast-track medical-marijuana legislation.

The Nation reports that Thira, who works at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, also posted details about findings from foreign studies, which show that cannabis does not quite live up to some of the claims.

Last week, Government Pharmaceutical Organisation chairman Dr Sopon Mekthon told a seminar that cannabis extracts would be ready for use as early as next January, if the Food and Drug Administration were to issue an announcement declaring it legal for medicinal purposes.

Professor Dr Thiravat Hema-chudha, a senior medical lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, has also been calling on Thailand to act quickly, pointing out that Britain took just six weeks to effectively legalise marijuana for medical use. Both have mentioned the many medical benefits of marijuana. Yet Thira is unconvinced.

“I don’t know if they are looking for research funds or if they have any hidden agenda, but I want to present academic information,” Thira said on social media, without mentioning anyone by name.

Thira says he is speaking out of concern that policymakers may not have received well-rounded information before making a decision that would affect an entire nation.

“The impacts will be huge,” he predicted.

According to him, a meta-study had already examined more than 1,000 academic articles in a systematic review of medical cannabinoids.

“Cannabis extracts may ease chronic pain, but the effects are no better than alcohol consumption. If one has a 0.8 blood-alcohol level, one will not feel that much pain either,” Thira said.

He added that it should also be noted that most studies touting cannabis as a painkiller have monitored its impacts for no more than two months.

“Studies monitoring the impacts longer than two months have found that cannabis is not an effective painkiller,” Thira said.

The medical lecturer reckoned the meta-study had concluded that cannabinoids helped with nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy, and delivered some improvement in spasticity.

“But before we start growing cannabis in the hope of developing medicines based on cannabinoids, we need to conduct comprehensive and large-scale research first. Proceed carefully to determine if efforts will be worth it and cost-effective,” Thira said.

“Policymakers need to consider social impacts too.”

He added that the largest concern was the proposal to remove cannabis from the list of narcotics.

“How will you control the use of marijuana then? Are you sure it will not leak out of the patients-only stream to the general public?” he asked.

Personally, he said, he does not believe Thailand should push hard for the legalisation of marijuana.

“Many countries that have legalised marijuana have started realising that this move is leading to many problems,” he said.

He explained that it will be difficult to control the substance once it is declared legal for medical purposes, because some people might start complaining about pain just to get their hands on the narcotic.

“If marijuana is abused, there could be an increase in road accidents and sexual crime,” he said.

“We should not be taking such a risk.”

Thiravart yesterday argued that one should have the courage to step outside the box and push for development based on what is useful.

“We can develop and apply, but of course, we need to conduct extensive research to ensure that our efforts will be fruitful and effective,” he said.

Thiravat said he will speak in favour of legalising marijuana when he attends a meeting with the Public Health Ministry-appointed panel on the legalisation of narcotics today.

“But I will insist that we put in place strict control measures to ensure marijuana is used for medical purposes only,” he said.

Separately, the National Legislative Assembly plans to hold a public forum to gather opinions on October 30 on the draft drug law that aims to legalise marijuana. More than 16,400 people have already shared their opinion on the plan via an online survey conducted from October 1 to October 15, and of them, 99 per cent back the idea of legalising some narcotics for a good purpose.

STORY: The Nation



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Phuket

“Self-myofascial release” – what is foam rolling?

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“Self-myofascial release” – what is foam rolling? | The Thaiger

by Krix Luther

The word is out about self-myofascial release – foam rolling – and, no, Thailand people, this doesn’t have to do with a ‘soapy’ or ‘happy-endings’.

So what is foam rolling you ask? Well, it was once a secretive technique used by professional coaches and therapists but has become a regular practice for people across the spectrum of all fitness levels.

Self-myofascial release is just a fancy term for a technique of self-massage that helps deal with muscle tightness and trigger points.

With a massage parlour never being farther than a kilometre away, and decent one-hour massage costing you less than 500 baht, it might be difficult to see the point of learning the technique – which would explain why I always see a bunch of rarely used foam rollers in the corner of Nai Harn Gym in Phuket (one of the places I work).

Nonetheless, the understanding of your body and muscle structures that comes with practising the technique can offer many benefits.

  • Increases flexibility and range of motion
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Prevents chances of DOMS
  • Reduces post-workout stress
  • Helps with post-workout cooldown
  • Reduces recovery time
  • Prevents training-related injuries
  • Reduces chances of overtraining

The practice can be done with a foam roller, lacrosse ball, Theracane or your own hands by simply applying pressure to specific points on your body, aiding in the recovery of muscles and assisting in returning them to normal function. We can think of ‘normal function’ as when your muscles are elastic, healthy and ready to perform at a moment’s notice.

Foam rolling after a workout will provide deep compression that will help relax tight muscles and adhesions (fibrous bands) between muscle layers and their surroundings. The benefits of foam rolling are outstanding, in addition to increasing blood flow, which will speed up muscle recovery. Foam rolling can be used for a variety of corrective bodywork.

It can loosen muscles to re-balance posture, re-establish proper movement patterns, enhance performance and help create pain-free movement.

Stretching alone is not always enough when it comes to releasing the tightness, which makes the technique very helpful. Additionally, you are able to feel exactly what is happening and adjust the pressure so that it is uncomfortable, but not unbearable – not always the case when it comes to the toes of your Thai masseuse digging into your back.

Krix Luther has been a Personal Trainer in Phuket for more than 10 years, he specialises in weight loss, strength & conditioning, TRX and CrossFit. For more information about Krix and his services, visit krixluther.com

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Thai Life

Japan’s legendary cherry blossom is only 5 hours away

The Thaiger

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Japan’s legendary cherry blossom is only 5 hours away | The Thaiger

by Kaoru

Do you travel frequently between Thailand and North America and want to break your journey on the way? Or are you simply looking for somewhere to escape the scorching weather forecast for the next few months? 

Japan has become a very popular holiday destination among Thais with visitor numbers expected to reach one million a year. Many of them are excited to see snow in winter but March~April is a more pleasant time of year with spring flowers and festivals all over the country. Cherry blossoms are well known but the plum blossom season starts earlier in mid-February and the flowers last longer. 

While in Thailand I met so many expats, mainly farang, who had “been there, done that” all over Asia but not yet been to Japan. It seems these days, it’s the free-spending Thais who are travelling in numbers. Budget airline Nok Scoot started flying from Don Muang to Tokyo Narita last year and Thai Lion has now joined the competition. 

Those of you bound for North America can connect flights in Tokyo or Osaka, flying legacy carriers like JAL or ANA out of Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK.) Actually, Tokyo has two international airports, Haneda (HND) which is close to the city and Narita (NRT.)

Japan's legendary cherry blossom is only 5 hours away | News by The Thaiger

Narita Airport is about 60 kilomentres from Tokyo but lies close to a temple town of the same name, only 10 minutes by train. Plum blossom festival is held there until March 3, Buddha’s Birthday is celebrated earlier than Thailand in April, and there will be two days of drum (taiko) performances on April 13 and 14.

However the largest plum blossom festival in the region is held between February 16 and  March 31 in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, about an hour and a half from NRT by coach.

To visit this event you might need a stopover of at least one night. The main venue is the Kairakuen Garden with 3,000 plum trees spread over 50 hectares.  On selected dates an outdoor tea ceremony will be held, and you may also like to taste local plum wine which is sweet and a lot milder than sake (Japanese rice wine.) 

“Plum Blossom Ambassadors,” ladies dressed in traditional costume (kimono) greet visitors at the gardens. Thailand is a photogenic country and so is Japan. I was in Chiang Mai until a few weeks ago, so with memories still fresh from the Flower Festival, I quickly approached of them for a photo shot. 

Then, a prominent feudal lord who ruled Mito reappeared from a few hundred years ago and also wanted to join the photo. Known as Mito Komon, his retired life is dramatised as a legendary figure who travels around the country disguised as a commoner, confronting villains and exposing corruption while helping the weak.

Even if you are familiar with Asia you will notice big differences as well as similarities when you come to Japan. “Will I be able to communicate and find my way around?” You might ask. Japan’s ranking in terms of English proficiency is in the same league as Thailand, only slightly ahead, according to one research by an international language education organisation. That sounds challenging to any foreign visitor but it shouldn’t put you off- If you enjoy life in Thailand you already know how to adapt to a different culture. 

* Special thanks to Mito Tourism and Convention Association for arranging my visit. Thai visitors please let them know beforehand that you are coming so that they can display their welcome banner. 

Japan's legendary cherry blossom is only 5 hours away | News by The Thaiger

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Thailand

The legalisation of marijuana for medical purposes, is now in effect

The Thaiger

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The legalisation of marijuana for medical purposes, is now in effect | The Thaiger

Grass, pot, ganja, marijuana… cannabis.

Whatever you want to call it, it can now be grown legally in Thailand and used in medical and scientific applications with the consent of the authorities, under strict guidelines.

The Narcotics Act 2562, which seeks to amend specific provisions of the Narcotics Act of 1979 to enable the use of marijuana for the treatment of patients, study, research and development, has now been published in the Royal Gazette.

The revised also allows for cultivation in agricultural, commercial and industrial uses for medical benefits as well.

However, the legal use of marijuana will be placed under the control of a committee headed by the permanent secretary of agriculture and comprises heads of several departments such as the Health Support Services Department, the Industrial Works Department, the Mental Health Department and the Medical Council.

The law also allows for the legal use of “kanchong”, or hemp, with consent from the committee.

Import and export of marijuana in quantities, appropriate for medical treatment of certain ailments, is now permissible under the law, but there must be a prescription or a certificate from a certified medical practitioner.

However, the import or export of marijuana in excess of 10 kilograms remains prohibited as this will be considered trafficking in narcotics.

This is the first time in Thailand that marijuana can be used legally for medical or scientific purposes despite the fact that the studies indicate the plant may possess medicinal qualities of value to some patients.

The controlled use of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes is considered an initial step which will eventually lead to wider use for other purposes.

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