November 4, 2020, at 15:00 p.m. at the Vegetable Unit of Horticulture Department of Faculty of Agriculture – The Cannabis Research Institute of Khon Kaen University held the first blooming cutting event with Dr. Narongchai Akrasanee, University Council Chairman presiding over the ceremony. Prof. Dr. Monchai Duangchinda, Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies gave a report speech on the background of cannabis cultivation. Khun Worathat Thuleechan, Vice Governor of Khon Kaen; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Darunee Chotithayangkoon, Dean of Faculty of Agriculture; Asst. Prof. Dr. Chanon Lapjit, Head of the Cannabis Research project for benefits in medicine and related industries under the Cannabis Research Institute of Khon Kaen University; Director of Drug Prevention and Suppression Office, Area 4, Permanent Secretary of Khon Kaen Province, Khon Kaen Public Health Officer; KKU administrators, researchers, staff, and the press attended.
Dr. Narongchai Akrasanee said, “Cannabis Research Institute of Khon Kaen University conducts research and development on marijuana and cannabis for their applications in medicine and for benefits of man and animals as well as for related industries. The cultivars have been improved and key elements analyzed for types of medicine and clinical research in medicine and veterinary science. Khon Kaen University has been authorized to produce (cultivate) marijuana (according to the official authorizing document No. 12/2563). Khon Kaen University is the first place in Khon Kaen that receives approval for growing marijuana for research. The first cutting of the flowers this time is from the blooming of the first plantation. The flowers will be used in the cultivar investigation and investigation of different matters in the crop, and the objective is to develop more cultivars for benefits and use in medicine and related industries. It is believed that the study of marijuana and cannabis will be useful for medicine and for different industries. There will be promotion and transfer of knowledge on the crops to community enterprises, organizations, the government sector and the private sector, which will lead to extension in industries under the law enforced. The research institute will act as the center for disseminating knowledge and information of the crops to governmental and private organizations as well as the public in Khon Kaen Province.”
“The cut bunches of marijuana flowers will be extracted for matters. For this, we receive approval by the Food and Drug Administration to be the place for extraction of the matter under study. Now, there are 2 of them: CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which are useful in medicine. There are 3 cultivars cut today. Comparison will be made to see the amount of extracts obtained when they are grown in a closed system with temperatures and light monitored. The extracts will be sent to the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences to develop in the form of drug. At present, the extracts are used by Thai traditional medicine in the solution form for dropping under the tongue. Such application does not go into details in the amount of the key matter. Therefore, the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences will have to perform a study to see the dosage of drops, for example 1:1 or 2:1, so that the results can be used in medicine. Besides, we are authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to develop 7 more products such as in lozenges, skin-attaching sheets or suppositories for bed-ridden patients. These products, when ready, will be sent to the Faculty of Medicine. There are doctors there who are interested in doing research on diseases that can use cannabis-based medicine such as Parkinson, Alzheimer, some cancer, Psoriasis, etc. The Faculty of Medicine is under the process in seeking approval for conducting research on human. The products will be intensively studied for benefits in medicine.”
“The first lot of marijuana and cannabis totals 35 trees, grown in a 10 m2 closed container. In one year, 3 lots can be grown, totaling 100 trees. Now KKU is already authorized to grow the second lot in a plastic building system in an area of 2 rais. FDA gave a score of 100 to KKU for the appropriate land for growing cannabis. Therefore, expansion of cultivation will be fast, with 500-700 trees grown at a time for 3 times a year, totaling around 2,000 trees.
“Khon Kaen University by the Cannabis Research Institute looks at a complete cycle of production, from upstream towards downstream before the real use of the products. Srinagarind Hospital is there with specialized doctors in the use of drugs. KKU also has the intention in caring patients under the modern medicine. If cannabis can be developed until the use in modern medicine, with doctors seeing the importance of its use, then medical treatment can be more efficient. In the future, we may not have to import drugs from abroad.”
Asst. Prof. Dr. Chanon Lapjit said, “The Cannabis Research Institute is producing cannabis for benefits in medicine. The institute operates under Khon Kaen University and is collaborated by many sectors and organizations. Production begins at the Faculty of Agriculture, and the outcomes will be sent to the Faculty of Sciences where we use the place at the Science Park for extraction. The extracted oil will be sent to the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences to manufacture into various products. The main users will be the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Khon Kaen University.”
“Research related to cannabis is useful for many beings. We begin from experimented animals. If successful, the products will be used with livestock and treatment of animals. The most essential benefits of cannabis that can be seen clearly is its impact on neurological system, especially in animals with tension. At present, commercial production of animal meat is done as mass production, making the animals stressed. Stress in animals prevent growth. Therefore, less stress could lead to better growing. In human, there is also the stress condition and cannabis may help people sleep better. The Faculty of Medicine also conducts 9 projects of research on cannabis to make use of its extracts.”
“Now we produce cannabis for medical benefits. If there is confirmation in research outcomes and publications on its safety, the commercial manufacturing can proceed. This may take 3-5 years. Cannabis contains 5 types of addicted matters. This is the significant condition behind manufacturing. If research indicates clear information and the law is lenient for its development, the commercial manufacturing is viable.
Prof. Dr. Monchai Duangchinda said, “The first cutting of cannabis blooms today is by the Cannabis Research Institute, whose key mission is to conduct research on cannabis for benefits in medicine and industries. Khon Kaen University is carrying out integrated research in this regard, that is, from upstream towards downstream, beginning at the Faculty of Agriculture that researches into cultivation and development of cultivars, the Faculty of Sciences that researches into extracts from cannabis, the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Faculty of Medicine that develop medicinal products from cannabis, and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine that researches into the use of residues from cannabis research as animal feeds.”
“The Cannabis Research Institute and the Research and Graduate Study Section also carry out the Cannabis-Marijuana Research Project to investigate in cultivar improvement, analyze key matters, drug types and carry out clinical and veterinary research. KKU has been authorized to do research on this. The cutting of the blooming today is part of the study on cannabis cultivars for medicine and related industries according to the official authorizing document No. 12/2563. We are the first to be authorized cannabis growing in Khon Kaen. The plantation area is 20 square meters at the Vegetable Unit, Horticulture Department of the Faculty of Agriculture. The plot will contain 72 trees/round of plantation (3 plantations/year). The planting was done in April, 2020. The Institute is authorized to hold 101 seeds for growing (Authorization No. 23/2563) at the said unit. The cutting is used for investigation of cultivars and the next step is developing appropriate cultivars for medicinal use.”
News / Photos: Wachara Noichompoo