Thailand is canvassing public opinion on a draft bill outlawing the recreational use of cannabis after more than a year in which cannabis-related businesses flourished following legalization and insufficient regulation.

The first Southeast Asian nation to decriminalize cannabis in 2021, Thailand spawned an industry worth up to a projected $1.2 billion in the next few years, as thousands of dispensaries sprang up, along with spas, restaurants, and festivals.

Rushed and piecemeal rules adopted within a week of decriminalization sought to curb its use but left loopholes for recreational use. The changes, aiming to deliver on an election promise, come after Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin spoke out against recreational use amid concerns about drug abuse and vowed that his government would only support medical use.

"We drafted this law to prohibit the wrong usage of cannabis," Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew told media this week. "All recreational usage is wrong."

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