Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told the House of Representatives on Tuesday that being overly concerned with cannabis use would only delay national development.
Mr Anutin, who is also leader of the Bhumjaithai Party, was responding to the opposition's censure motion against him over the cannabis decriminalisation policy.
During the debate, opposition chief whip Sutin Klungsang criticised the cannabis legalisation and showed a video clip of Mr Anutin telling people during a recent election campaign that his party would decriminalise the plant so that the general public could smoke it without facing legal action.
In response, Mr Anutin told the House that he was only joking at the time. He apologised for the cannabis-smoking remark and promised to be more careful with his speech.
Mr Anutin insisted that cannabis abuse would not happen during the tenure of this government, and he hoped that a relevant law would be passed quickly to regulate cannabis use.
The law would impose penalties against cannabis abusers and would also provide clearer regulations on cannabis-infused food, Mr Anutin said.
He stressed that the government has decriminalised cannabis only for medical and economic purposes. Its use for recreation did not exist in the policy, he said.
"I believe everyone understand that the proper use of cannabis for medical purposes will give people a better opportunity to be treated with Thai herbs," said the public health minister.