BANGKOK, Thailand -- The Dalai Lama said he supports the use of medical marijuana, but if a person smokes the plant to get "a crazy mind, that's not good."

Tenzin Gyatso, the self-exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, made the remarks in Mexico in response to a question during an event hosted by former Mexican president Vicente Fox.

When asked if he favors legalization of marijuana, the Dalai Lama replied that "the exception" would be for medical purposes, according to Agence France-Presse.

"But otherwise, if it's just an issue of somebody [using the drug to have] a crazy mind, that's not good," he said on Tuesday (Oct. 15) at the outdoor event in Guanajuato state.

Fox "laughed when the question was asked to the Dalai Lama," AFP reported.

The former president is a vocal supporter of marijuana's legalization to cut "a major revenue stream for ultra-violent drug cartels," according to AFP.

The Dalai Lama, 78, is not known to use marijuana for any illness.

In 2008, he underwent laparoscopic surgery to have a gallstone removed, his spokesman Chhime R. Chhoekyapa said at the time.

The Dalai Lama actively supports modern medical treatments, and also Tibet's 2,000-year-old traditional medicine.

After fleeing Tibet in 1959 during the Chinese invasion, the Dalai Lama has resided in northern India's Himalayan mountain town of Dharamsala, where in 1961 he established a Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute, known as Men-Tsee-Khang in Tibetan language.

The previous Dalai Lama set up the institute in 1916 in Tibet to promote the Tibetan system of medicine, astronomy and astrology, according to its website.

"Men-Tsee-Khang is a charitable, cultural and educational institution of H. H. [His Holiness] the Dalai Lama," it said.

Today, the institution provides free and subsidized health care to Tibetan refugees and their families in India, teaches Tibetan doctors and astrologers, and produces Tibetan medicine, including "Precious Pills."

The "precious black pill of cold compound," for example, contains 140 ingredients including "calcinated powder of precious stones and metals like gold, silver, copper, iron, sapphire, diamond, emerald, turquoise etc., as well as herbal and non-herbal ingredients like saffron, nutmeg, Indian pokeberry, chebulic myrobalan etc.," according to the institute.

The black pill is to treat "stomach problems," "blood in the liver," "bloody diarrhea or vomiting of rancid blood," "poisoning," "leprosy, malignant tumor, diphtheria" and other diseases.

All "precious pills" are "enriched by spiritual blessing," and some include "purified and detoxified mercury powder with a sulphur base."

The Dalai Lama's surprise support for medical marijuana attracted interest among Buddhists and others in various countries who posted comments on several websites.

"Why wouldn't compassionate-minded Buddhists support the use of a healing, natural, herbal, non-addictive medicine such as marijuana to treat symptoms of medical conditions?" asked James Ure, a Zen Buddhist who publishes The Buddhist Blog.

"It helps relieve my chronic depression to the point of saving me from suicide a few times. In addition, medical marijuana blunts the aches and pains of my bursitis to enable my body to meditate properly," Ure said.

The Dalai Lama's support for marijuana appeared on a Huffington Post website alongside the names of other famous people who enjoyed the drug including Sarah Palin, Lady Gaga, Michael Bloomberg, George Clooney, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

"Having the Dalai Lama support for medical use is a great step in the right direction. Just like with CNN's Sanjay Gupta, it allows the uninformed non-smoker to stop thinking of Marijuana as an Evil Drug and as a positive natural resource," commented one marijuana advocate.

Steve Elliott, a Hemp News reporter in a pro-cannabis group, Hemp.Org, said, "Somebody really needs to educate His Holiness," after noting that the Dalai Lama perceived recreational use as "not good" because it causes a "crazy mind."