Thailand: How To End a War on Drugs (give the dope back)

I must admit I’m a bit gobsmacked, in a good way.

Here, I rant and I rave about idiocies in my chosen forever-home of Thailand. Then they go do something that surprises me and if that wasn’t enough, shocks me.

It all seemingly started out of the blue just a few days ago….

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More than 3,000 ‘cannabis convicts’ to be released from Thai prison tomorrow

Tomorrow, 3,071 prisoners locked up for cannabis-related drug crimes will be released from prisons all over Thailand. Thailand’s Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin ordered the Department of Corrections to release the prisoners tomorrow, June 9, when cannabis will be delisted as a Category 5 narcotic.

Currently, there are 4,075 inmates in Thailand convicted of marijuana-related offences. A total of 3,071 of which, who were convicted of marijuana-related offences alone, will be released tomorrow. The remaining 1,004 were convicted of marijuana-related offences and other crimes, and while they will not be released tomorrow, their sentences will be amended accordingly, said Somsak.

Anyone currently facing trial for marijuana-related offences will also be dismissed, according to the department.

All parts of marijuana plants – including the THC-rich flowers – will be delisted as a narcotic tomorrow, decriminalising possession of cannabis in Thailand.

While the plant itself may no longer be illegal, the Thai government still does not support its recreational use. Cannabis smoke has recently been written into new legislation as a “public nuisance.” Meaning, if someone is annoyed by the smell of cannabis smoke, they can report the culprit, who may serve up to 3 months in prison if found guilty.

Starting tomorrow, growing cannabis and hemp at home in Thailand will be legalised, and public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul is set to give away one million free cannabis plants. Cannabis growers do not have to ask for permission to grow the plant, all they need to do is register via the ‘Plook Ganja’ mobile application. However, extracts containing more than 0.2% THC will still be classified as a Category 5 narcotic.

Meanwhile in America, the cannabis industry is booming and the plant has been legalised in 19 states. However, there are an estimated 40,000 inmates currently imprisoned in the US for non-violent marijuana-related offences.

How about that? Not only change course, but do the best you can to rectify and remediate the harms now deemed harmless.

And it’s a good point that in spite of so many states in my former country finally legalising a relatively harmless substance, they keep the non-violent-jailed, jailed. Unconscionable, and I have no qualms about asserting the Buddhist moral superiority of Thailand over Christian America.

…It’s not like dope hasn’t been easily obtainable anyway for a very long time. I have it offered to me regularly in bars…guy or gal rolls a joint, passes it around. But I’m not much of a cannabis fan anymore so I usually pass. Occasionally I’ll indulge in a toke or two. I had my stage in college, 1982, junior year, where I was stoned 24/7/365. Went to class stoned, studied stoned, and took tests stoned. Best grades in the whole 4 1/2 years of college.

I was completely off it for five years while doing the Navy gig in Japan and all over Asia. Then I went to France and they don’t do herb, they do hashish (basically the concentrated resin from cannabis plants). I got a bit back into it, but always waning. I was getting over it.

Back home in 1993, it was almost always a never. Maybe 2-3 times over 12-13 years. Then we moved into a downtown loft setting and I was around people who smoked quite a lot. So I got back in a bit more.

…But something had changed. Back in the day at Oregon State, the thing was Thai Stick. That was my introduction, ironically. It’s the same skewers of wood they use to this day for pork and chicken BBQ, but there’s a ganja bud (the flower) wrapped around the skewer and wound with fishing line. It dries.

Taken by small-bowl bong hits, it was very reliable. A measured dose of wonder. In this modern world, by contrast, the “medical marijuana” everyone had on offer was all over the map for me. A dose was a crapshoot. Sometimes fine but other times, you’re rendered a useless zombie for hours. One reason I like alcohol for my chemical inhibitions is that I’m expert. I know how to regulate dose over time and when to stop before completely losing my presence of mind (never had a DUI). Harder to do that when you don’t really know or have experience with the concentration.

So now, it’s just a now and then…and little, tiny tokes. Try to get that comfortably-numb buzz on for a few hours, enjoy. And for those in the know, alcohol detensifies, whilst nicotine intensifies. That can be a fun bit of recreation provided you maintain presence of mind. Always have a good sense about what the fuck you’re doing.

…So if that wasn’t enough already—if nothing else but just to stop the madness over reefers—this pops up this morning.

Thailand is going a step further. As if to be integrally honest and consistent, and since it’s now legal, then confiscated property ought to be returned in the spirit of full faith and credit…intellectually honest superior-moral integrity. In for a penny, in for a pound.

Sixteen tonnes of confiscated cannabis to be returned to drug offenders in Thailand

In bonkers Thailand, the police are giving drug offenders their cannabis back. Now that cannabis is ‘legal’, sort of, Thailand’s Office of the Narcotics Control Board plans to return 16 tonnes of confiscated marijuana to its original owners, according to the board’s Secretary General Wichai Chaimongkol. The stockpiled cannabis is valued at 110 million baht.

Yesterday, all parts of the marijuana plant were delisted as a Category 5 narcotic in Thailand. Growing cannabis at home became legal and more than 3,000 “cannabis convicts” were released from prison. Now that the plant – including the THC-rich flowers – is no longer illegal, the ONCB has a special plan for 16 tonnes of confiscated cannabis…

“On June 9, marijuana was “unlocked.” It is no longer considered a Category 5 narcotic… so the ONCB is taking action to return assets to offenders in 99 marijuana cases. The assets are valued at 110 million baht.”

“Collectively, there are 16 tonnes of marijuana sitting at ONCB offices around Thailand waiting to be returned. The marijuana was confiscated between October 1 2021 and May 27 2022. Cannabis is no longer considered a drug, so it must be returned to its owners.”

In order for ex-offenders to get their cannabis back, they need to put in a request at the ONCB office in Din Daeng or the provincial office where the drug case took place, added Wichai.

Wichai said that he is still against the recreational use of cannabis, but because the plant is no longer an illegal drug, it is only fair that the confiscated cannabis is returned home. The intended use of cannabis is for medicinal purposes, he added.

We hate to break it to you, Wichai, but we’re not convinced that mountain of cannabis will be used ‘medicinally’.

Well anyone can make of that what they will but as a rather anarchist-libertarian, I have never ever seen any state in the world act so quickly and decisively in terms of the moral and ethical principles I hold.

So I guess I’m back firmly in the I Love Thailand category, and it has little to do with dope. If they can do that, what they just did, then my sense is that there is some underlying force that puts principles above politics. And that’s unheard of in statecraft.


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5 Comments

  1. Eddie Osh on June 11, 2022 at 16:37

    The US strong armed the rest of the world to outlaw drugs, I wonder if this change might be related to the changing world order?

  2. Ed Dudley on June 11, 2022 at 23:51

    Damn, a country that decides and just does it.

    For what it’s worth, take it from somebody older than you. The smoke from the 70s and 80s was fun, made me laugh and ravenous. The weed these days is WAY more powerful. A couple weeks back, I was at a friends house who had just died and they were passing a joint around. I took 3 small hits, coughed my ass off and was in a purple haze. I was so stoned, I couldn’t even feel my feet. It was NOT pleasant!!

    • Richard Nikoley on June 12, 2022 at 00:23

      Yea, imagine anything on that scale and rapidity—without endless political shitshows—happening EVER in The Land of the Free.

      And yep, exactly what I was getting at with the comparison of smoke. Way too powerful today, I’d say.

      Sounds like you’re old enough to remember how it was when it was perfect and needed no improvement. It’s like if you’re a boozer, just fine with 80 proof, but the bottles gradually go to 200 over time (which would be 100% alcohol).

      • Ed Dudley on June 12, 2022 at 03:59

        Perfect is the right description



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