“I can say it out loud, that I am a cannabis smoker. I don’t need to hide like in the past when it was branded as a illegal drug,” said 24-year-old Rittipong Bachkul, the day’s first customer. Marijuana is also known as cannabis or ganja in Thailand.
The public health minister’s plan to distribute 1 million marijuana seedlings, beginning Friday, has added to the impression that Thailand is turning into a weed wonderland.
The decision by the Food and Drug Administration to remove all of the plant from the category of narcotic drugs makes Thailand the first nation in Asia to decriminalize marijuana for medical and industrial use. But it is not following the examples of Uruguay and Canada, the only two countries so far that have legalized recreational marijuana on a national basis.
So far, it appears there will be no effort to police what people can grow and smoke at home, aside from registering to do so and declaring it is for medical purposes.
Some Thai advocates celebrated on Thursday by buying marijuana at a café that had previously been limited to selling products made from the parts of the plant that do not get people high. The dozen or so people who turned up early at the Highland Café were able to choose from a variety of buds with names such as Sugarcane, Bubblegum, Purple Afghani and UFO.
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