Thailand’s Government has approved in principle a Health Ministry proposal to amend the Narcotics Act to allow patients, medical practitioners and traditional healers to grow marijuana for medical and commercial purposes.

Deputy government spokeswoman Traisulee Traisoranakul said the cabinet approved the proposal submitted by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul to amend narcotics legislation enacted last year.

The proposed amendment also allows manufacturers of medical products to produce, import and export or possess the Category 5 narcotic marijuana.

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 marijuana for medical treatment,

The Public Health Ministry held a public hearing to get views from people regarding the draft amendment in June. 

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.

The government hopes the amendment will enable manufacturers of medicinal cannabis products to compete in international markets.