It’s Legal Now!

Our Bangkok correspondent H. Numan sends this report with important news from Thailand.

It’s legal now!

by H. Numan

The biggest news of the year in Thailand: Marijuana has been legalized. Sort of, that is. And sort of surprising, certainly coming from a military junta clad in civvies. First the (back then) military government allowed marijuana to be grown for medical purposes. Officially, that’s still the policy.

There is a big difference between what the government allows and what the law allows. Strictly speaking, if you want to grow hemp as a cash crop, you have to jump through thousands of hoops to get a permit. But individuals are now allowed to buy hemp plants legally. Provided… the THC contents is less than 0.2%. I’m quite certain no reader has ever touched the stuff, so let me explain. THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol and is the stuff that makes you happy. The higher the THC content, the higher you get. Like the alcohol content in a drink. A THC level of 0.2% is what you normally find in rope. Cynical as I am, I encourage the government to allow home brewing and distilling (both are illegal here), provided the final product doesn’t contain any alcohol.

Having said that, the common folks don’t really care much for the growing itself or buying a piece of rope. Marijuana sellers pop up everywhere. What they sell is the good stuff. So far, without any problems. The police do not interfere. The current rate is about Bt. 700 ($20) per gram. I expect those prices to drop over the coming months, due to competition.

What makes it hilariously funny is the reaction of the media. Most media are pretty conservative here. They really are in panic mode. The craziest stories appear that demonize weed. It’s Reefer Madness version 2.0. A paper reported a woman had to be hospitalized for a severe allergic reaction to a few leaves of weed in her bowl of soup. That kind of stuff. Woo the weed! Shame, shame!

The funniest story was about a man who went berserk with a knife after smoking weed and taking Tramadol. Really? Once I had severe stomach pain, and my doctor proscribed tramadol for it. It’s a very strong painkiller. Even in Thailand, you can’t get it without prescription. One of the side effects is that it makes you drowsy. And if you happen to be allergic to it, as I am, you fall asleep. Knocked out cold. I slept for +24 hours. Normally when I wake up, I’m wide awake. Not this time.

I was barely able to drag myself to the hospital, where I fell asleep on the floor. The nurses were kind of surprised, but they picked me up from the floor and laid me on a bed. The doctor showed up, and told me: I see what the problem is. You’re allergic to tramadol. I’ll give you something else. He didn’t even have to examine me.

The point here is that smoking weed doesn’t make you aggressive. Unless someone takes away your munchies. Tramadol makes you either drowsy or knocks you out cold. Combine the two, and you can’t even open a wrapper from a candy bar. If you make up stories, please do your homework! If someone can get hold of tramadol (a strong opioid) for recreational use, he has much bigger issues than being a wee bit stoned.

Conservative forces (many media, royalists, army officers, police officers who are losing their lucrative business) hope to scare people into the desired behavior. Reinstate the ban, in other words. I think it’s a hopeless last-ditch effort. Once you open the door, it’ll open wider. No matter what. For those of you interested in a trip to Bangkok: no sales to those under 20 years of age or to pregnant women, no smoking the stuff in public or in schools. Schools all declared themselves marijuana free.

Somehow I get the idea that schools might have declared themselves nuclear free zones as well, with better results. It’s a lot harder for teenagers to mess around with nuclear weapons. I recall Dutch schools trying the same, with no results whatsoever. You can get any kind of drug, soft or hard, in every secondary school nowadays. Plus a good many primary schools. Not just the bad schools in bad parts of town. Every school anywhere in The Netherlands.

A couple of weeks ago we had local elections in Bangkok. The first ones since the military coup in 2014. Who was elected? A new face in local politics bearing the name Chadchart Sittipunt. The name and face aren’t that important. His background is. He used to be a member of the Pheu Thai Party, as minister of transport. The Pheu Thai Party was set up by Thaksin Sinawatra, and subsequently banned after the coup by the military. Maybe you remember them as the red shirts.

Thaksin lives in exile, but he’s not done yet. Every once in a while he pokes the government, which reacts as if bitten by a tiger. Chadchart is an independent politician now, but Thai politics are very fluid. To compare it with the USA, imagine Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez switching from Democrat to Republican and back, a couple of times. That kind of fluid. It’s too soon to tell if the government is unhappy about it, or very unhappy. He’s just been elected with an absolute majority. Something that will make the government unhappy in any case. Looks like the interesting times of a decade ago might be coming back.

Finally some good news for me, personally. There is serious talk in the immigration department of abolishing the 90-day registration form. If you want to stay in Thailand longer than 90 days, you have to report to the immigration police every 90 days, and fill in a form. It’s free, but heaven help you if you forget it. The penalties are draconian. Suppose you miss one entirely, you will be heavily fined and extradited to your home country immediately, plus a ban on returning to Thailand for ten years.

That’s on top of reporting every year to the immigration department. It’s just a different section. So they have all the information they need anyway. That 90-day registration is a way to keep otherwise unemployed immigration officers occupied with essentially useless very dull work. For me and many others it’s a lot of extra work, because the reporting has to be done in a different location, 25 km out of town. It’s a trip that takes me almost half a day to do, something I can do well without.

— H. Numan

6 thoughts on “It’s Legal Now!

  1. Numan, how is tourism now? Have the little hotels reopened? Small stores? Last you wrote, everything was shuttered.

    • It’s slowly re-opening again. The hotels that have survived, that is. Small local stores are a different story. Most shops in the streets I go for shopping are boarded up and for rent.

      From the 1st of July, masks are no longer required, and you don’t have to get a Thai Pass. Being inoculated and having a sufficient insurance is enough.

  2. Folks, this just came in a few minutes ago:

    Khon Kaen: Health dept. inspect school to prevent marijuana being put into lunch and puddings

    Daily News reported that officials from the Khon Kaen health department and environmentalists went to a school to ensure they were not putting weed in the kid’s lunch and puddings.

    Apparently, Thai schools have difficulty understanding the difference between ‘legalized’ and ‘compulsory’.

  3. Marijuana is an Open Society weapon of subversion. The Soros mafia is spreading it in Europe and elsewhere. It has a stealthy behavior-changing effect that subverts the social norms.

  4. Marijuana has more-or-less destroyed Western (white) civilization in about six decades, yet there’s always another pundit with an internet soapbox who thinks it’s all a big laugh.

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