Just one year ago, I would have told you that Thailand despite having a reputation for growing some of the best weed in the world a few decades ago, does not have a cultivation scene and is not a place you can come to expect to smoke and remain safe.
In fact, Thailand for many years has been one of the most dangerous countries anywhere in the world to consume cannabis. The jails are full of foreign tourists who thought it was safe to light up a joint in their bungalow and sadly found out that isn’t the case. Penalties for personal usage range from a serious fine and immediate deportation to long prison sentences in some of the harshest prisons on earth.
As it stands now, that is still the case and I strongly advise all of you to avoid the drug scene in Thailand when you visit. Even though there can seem to be a casual attitude on the islands and up in the north, the truth is that busts still happen on a regular basis and the courts on Koh Samui are constantly processing a steady stream of holidaymakers who made the mistake of ignoring all the information regarding drug use in southeast Asia.
All this being said, there has been a massive change in attitude towards cannabis in Thailand over the last year. Almost completely out of the blue the right-wing government made up of the military generals announced a complete U turn on government policy regarding medical cannabis.
Thailand has decided that they are going to become Asia’s first medical cannabis producer and supplier. Currently, they are very much in the research and development phase, heavily reliant on outside knowledge and consultation. The first farms and research centers are up and running and products have already been produced for testing.
One of the more amusing aspects of this rapid change is that there is no supply at all for cannabis in Asia so the first batches of weed that the researches had access to were in fact kilos of confiscated cannabis from neighbouring countries.
The current proposals are that all Thais will be able to grow 6 plants at home. There is some confusion over whether they will have to give the resulting product to the government or if they can keep their own herb. I have recently met both Thais and expats who have received official permission to posses and use herbal cannabis and oil for medical use.
The change is coming fast and has taken a lot of people by surprise, however its critically important to remember that while it may seem like everything is relaxing fast, it is still totally illegal to possess or smoke weed or hash recreationally in Thailand.
That may all be about to change but please don’t come here and take any risks, I can tell you from having friends who previously spent time in jail here that nothing is worth risking prison time here.
Cannabis use has been widespread and common in east Asia for far longer than just the recent years since western backpackers arrived. Used in cooking as a herb and as a medicine to alleviate the effects of working long days in the fields. Cannabis use was never seen as an issue until American interference.
Most people of an older generation would have heard of ‘Thai Stick’, this was a method of preserving and presenting cannabis in Thailand, that involved tightly winding cannabis buds around a length of bamboo stick and securing them with a piece of silk thread. Despite many many years of visiting, I have never actually seen real Thai stick and I suspect that it hasn’t been made here for many decades.
The cannabis in Thailand is dominantly Sativa, tall thin plants tower up high and the buzz from the normal outdoor weed can be powerfully strong. Although most of the cannabis comes over the border from Cambodia, it is fair to say that generally people are unprepared for the strength of the cannabis they smoke here.
It was during the Vietnam war that the Thai genetics and cannabis became famous, young servicemen stationed on bases in Thailand would purchase weed locally and eventually some of those seeds started to make their way back to America. It was some of those early genetics arriving in America which drove the hybridisation of cannabis in north America to such an extent. Coupled with hippies returning from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan with heavy Indica genetics, all the pieces were in place for a period of intense breeding and crossing during and after the late 1960’s. I don’t think many people realise that the modern genetics we all enjoy now started in part due to this difficult period in American/Asian history.
The search still goes on now for interesting and special genetics all over asia. There is such diversity here to work with and I truly believe that many of the greatest strains currently on the market would not exist if it were not for those early cannabis connoisseurs bringing back seeds to work with 50 years ago.
The next few years will be fascinating to watch, with the Thai government determined to work towards legalisation it seems and the new ability to collect and work with local genetics becoming safer and easier I think we are going to see some really interesting strains emerge from the villages and jungles of the Thai border regions. Time will tell.