Thailand wants to boost tourism by getting tourists high
Thailand is preparing for the peak tourist season and hopes that the recent law change that made cannabis use legal will attract a large number of travelers.
Once-banned marijuana is now on sale at market stalls, at beach clubs, and even at hotel receptions.
But the laws of this “weed paradise” are unclear.
Samui Grower’s cannabis stand is doing gold business tonight.
On a table are glass jars, each displaying a different flowering green bud, with labels reading things like ”Road Dawg’ hybrid THC 25% 850 baht/gram”.
Elsewhere on the island, at the Chi beach club, tourists lie on sofas smoking ready-to-roll joints and munching on pizzas topped with green cannabis leaves.
On Instagram, Green Shop Samui offers a marijuana menu of buds with fantastic names: Truffle Cream, Banana Kush and Sour Diesel, alongside hemp cookies and cannabis herbal soap.
Anyone familiar with Thailand’s notoriously tough attitude towards recreational drug use might watch this movie and wonder if they’ve smoked too much.
A country where narcotics offenses carry the death penalty, and being caught with a joint at a full moon party landed tourists at the infamous Bangkok Hilton, seems to have done flip-flop.
In an apparent attempt to lure tourists into the post-Covid doldrums, the Thai government decriminalized cannabis on June 9.
The streets of Koh Samui are already dotted with dispensaries bearing names such as Mr Cannabis, and tourists report being openly offered marijuana at their hotel reception.
Yet the laws surrounding cannabis are far more hazy than this ‘weed paradise’ suggests.
On June 9, the Thai government removed cannabis and hemp from its list of prohibited narcotics, leaving Thais free to grow and sell it.
The government line, however, is that production and consumption is only permitted for medical purposes, not recreational, and only for low-potency marijuana, containing less than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the main compound that gives a euphoric effect).
Recreational use of cannabis is discouraged, and authorities warn that anyone caught smoking cannabis in public can be charged with creating a public “nuisance of smell” under the Public Health Act and face a fine of 25,000 baht (688 euros) and three months’ imprisonment.
But on the beaches of Koh Samui, the law seems more open to interpretation.
At Chi, a luxury beach club in Bang Rak, Samui that serves Bollinger magnums and great French wines, owner Carl Lamb not only offers a CBD-infused menu, but also openly sells high-potency cannabis. in grams and ready-to-roll joints.
CBD, unlike THC, does not give euphoria and has many virtues, it is mainly known to fight against anxiety, anxiety and stress.
Lamb, who first tried medical marijuana for his own digestive issues, worked with a university in Chiang Mai to grow medicinal cannabis for the CBD menu that Chi serves: CBD Berry Lemonade, Hempus Maxiumus cocktails, and CBD Pad Kra Pow.
When the drug was decriminalized, Lamb took it as permission to start selling “real” joints in his bar.
“At first I was just doing it to make a bit of a buzz and I had a few grams in the box,” he smiles as he presents a large black cigar box filled with different varieties of cannabis – ranging from 500 baht (13 .65 euros) per gram for BlueBerry Haze to 1,000 baht (27.52 euros) per gram for Lemonade.
Today, Chi sells 100g a day.
“People buy it from 10 a.m. until closing time,” Lamb says.
“It’s really opened my eyes to see how many people want to try it.”
It serves parents curious to have a puff while their children play in the pool, wealthy people who want ready-to-go joints, and tourists who buy it straight off the plane.
According to Lamb, the law only prohibits him from selling to people under 25 or pregnant women “and if anyone complains about the smell, I have to shut it down.”
“We started getting phone calls from all over the world asking:
“Is it really true that you can smoke cannabis in Thailand and it’s legal?”.
We already know it attracts more tourists – people are booking for Christmas.”
The impact of Covid on the island has been “devastating”, says Lamb.
“The decriminalization of cannabis has, without a shadow of a doubt, a huge positive impact.
Now you can come here and lay on a beach in Asia at Christmas and smoke some weed.
Who wouldn’t come?”
The Thai man who runs the Samui Grower cannabis stand in the market is equally enthusiastic.
“Very good for tourists,” he says, when I ask him how the business is doing.
“Very good. Thai people like it.
We make money.”
Is it legal? I ask.
“Yes, yes,” he nods.
Can I buy it and smoke it on the beach?
In contrast, the manager of the Green Shop in Samui, which opens next week, tells me he will be issuing warnings to his customers to let them know not to smoke in public.
No wonder tourists are confused.
I find Morris, a 45-year-old Irish family man, buying cannabis on the market.
“I didn’t know it was that legal now,” he says.
Does he know the law?
“I know I can’t get arrested with it, but I haven’t done a lot of research,” he admits.
“I won’t smoke on the beach if there are other families around, but me and my wife might smoke at the hotel.”
Other tourists are more relaxed.
Nina tells me at her hotel in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, that cannabis is sold at the front desk.
“I smoke it anyway,” she shrugs.
“I wouldn’t really care if it was legal or not.”
“No one understands the law now, it’s a big mess – even the police don’t understand it,” a cannabis seller, who asked to remain anonymous, tells me.
Operating under the radar, he delivers cannabis to “farang” tourists and hotel concierges, he says:
“I’m careful at the moment, because the law is not clear.
They (the tourists) know nothing about the laws.
They don’t know they can’t smoke in public.
However, it is very dangerous to smoke in public.
At the Chi beach club, Linda, a 75-year-old American, who openly smokes a joint, feels relaxed about the vagaries of the law.
“I’m not worried about the gray area in Thailand.
Just be respectful when you smoke,” she says.
She believes that sharing a joint at the Chi beach club “has a friendly side, like buying a good wine for your friends”.
The real question now is what will happen.
Can a country that once had one of the strictest drug laws in the world really adapt to one of the most lax laws?
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Source : The guardian