The cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal to amend the Narcotics Act to allow patients, medical practitioners and traditional healers to grow cannabis for medical and commercial purposes.
Deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said that the cabinet approved the proposal submitted by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul to amend the narcotics legislation.
The Narcotics Act had been amended and mandated since last year to allow for the medical use of marijuana. However, Mr Anutin pushed for wider use.
The new amendment, if passed, would allow patients with a medical certificate, medical practitioners, traditional healers or folk healers to grow cannabis for medical treatment, she said.
The proposed amendment also allows manufacturers of medical products to produce, import and export or possess the Category 5 narcotic cannabis, she said.
The existing law allowed only state agencies or those who sought permission but must work with state agencies to produce, import or export cannabis, while medical practitioners and folk healers are not allowed to grow cannabis for medical treatment, she said.
The draft amendment also allows marijuana seized in drug crackdowns to be used for producing medical cannabis if need be, she said.
The Public Health Ministry held a public hearing to get views from people regarding the draft amendment on June 5.
The draft bill will now be forwarded to the Office of the Council of State for examination before being sent to a coordinating House panel for consideration. The panel would then forward it to the Lower House, she said.
Dr Chaloem Hanphanit, president of the Private Hospital Association, said he had submitted to the House committee on public health a request for private hospitals to be able to distribute medical cannabis to their patients.
Mr Anutin said that since this draft amendment is aimed at improving patients' access to medical cannabis, private parties, especially those that produce medicine, will be able to seek permission to grow marijuana.