Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew said the government will soon pass a law to ensure cannabis is used only for medical and health purposes.

Cholnan made the comments on Tuesday in an apparent attempt to correct Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who recently told an online news site that his government would return marijuana to the list of narcotics.

Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul was visibly shocked by Sreeta's remarks and said on Monday that he would have to hear the entire interview before responding.

While serving as health minister in the previous government, Anutin pushed for cannabis to be removed from the national narcotics list.

During the 2019 general election campaign, Anutin's Bhum Jai Thai Party promised voters to ensure the legalization of cannabis so that it could be used as an ingredient in medical and health products and thus become a source of revenue for the country.

Putting cannabis back on the drug list would trigger a conflict between alliance leader Pheu Thai and main partner Bhumjaithai.

On Tuesday, Cholnan said that while Sreeta expressed his personal views, it was not government policy.

Thailand Health Minister: Cannabis will be regulated, not banned

He noted that the coalition has communicated its policy to Parliament that cannabis will be used for medical and health purposes as well as to stimulate the economy. He said since the directive was announced in Parliament, it must be followed.

He said that under current law, only cannabis extracts containing 0.2 percent or more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by weight are considered narcotics.

Cholnan that a bill regulating the use of cannabis for health and medical purposes is ready and will be submitted to the cabinet soon.

“This bill will provide a legal basis for policy before Parliament,” said Joelnan. “Since cannabis is not a drug, there should be a law to regulate it, consistent with the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which states that countries that do not criminalize cannabis should pass a law to regulate it.”

Under the new law, anyone who uses cannabis for purposes other than medical or health purposes will be punished.

He said putting marijuana back on the list of narcotics would have serious consequences because it has been legal for several years. He said the private sector, businesses, and households growing cannabis for medical purposes would be affected.

The new law, once enacted, will require those wishing to grow cannabis for personal use to first obtain a license, the minister added.