BANGKOK — Panusith Suwanwuthijai, 31, used to sell tongue-numbing mala barbeque from his food truck before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Now, just days after the decriminalization of marijuana for medical purposes, his food truck returned to business, but selling tingling cannabis buds instead.
On Wednesday night, just short of two weeks after the removal of marijuana from the list of narcotics on June 9, Panusith and his younger brother were busy selling a variety of cannabis buds and joints to locals and tourists just off the western end of the famous Khaosan Road.
“I used to grow them and deal with them before it was decriminalized,” Panusith said.
The refrigerated glass display, which was once used to chill mala skewers, now comes in handy in showing weed. Gelato, Blueberry Muffin, Strawberry B…the list attached to the glass jars went on.
“Police came and fined me, even though it’s legal now,” he said, adding that he paid 500 baht per night for parking fine.
Unlike most vendors, the marijuana trucker listed 39 positive attributes of marijuana consumption which he said was cited from no less than the Thai Food and Drug Administration itself. It ranges from preventing migraine, Alzheimer’s disease, to even a nightmare.
The renowned backpacker destination and its immediate vicinity have emerged as the epicenter of cannabis retail in Bangkok. There were at least 10 vendors, three of which are marijuana trucks and four are hawkers, on Wednesday night. The price of a joint has dropped to 70 baht at one place, while others still selling it at 150 to 200 baht.
Panusith is aware that the parliament is currently vetting the Marijuana Bill and within the next few months, his business, which earns him 3,000 to 5,000 baht of profits per night, will either be made illegal or heavily regulated.
He said he is willing to see weed regulated such as setting a limit on the amount one can purchase and barring those under 20 and pregnant women from buying.
“I’m ready to register my business,” Panusith said. “Personally, I think everyone should have the right to buy cannabis, except those under 20 and so on. It’s a type of plant, we can grow it and used it for food as well.”
On Friday, a new regulation went into effect forbidding public smoking of weed, as well as the sale of marijuana to people under the age of 20, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers. Convenience stores began checking ID for the purchase of marijuana products, while cannabis-infused drinks were removed from vending machines.
Health minister Anutin Charnvirakul, a leading advocate for the legalization of marijuana, has defended his campaign, insisting on the medical use of the plant.
“If everyone uses it for health and medical purposes, there wouldn’t be any problem,” Anutin said last week.