Dear fellow citizens, expats, and those concerned about Thailand. Greetings!
Love it or loathe it, it has become apparent to many of us that the de facto use of marijuana for recreational purposes is spreading over the past 10 days since the decriminalization of marijuana for medical purposes by the government took effect on June 9.
Both Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-ocha and especially Public Health Minister Anutin Charnveerakul may have repeatedly said, like a parrot, that it is for medical purposes only, but the reality is otherwise.
The fact that young cannabis plants are now widely available, even at the weekly plant market at Chatuchak (seven sellers on Tuesday when I visited), combined with the proliferation of legal weed vendors at various spots (I counted four on Khao San Road Thursday night and many Thais and foreigners who queued up did not look sick or infirm to me) means it is no longer possible to really police the growing and using of marijuana without declaring a costly and brutal war on marijuana. Many more are now bound to use them for recreational purposes.
For those who are vehemently against it, I say relax, take a deep breath and please recognize that pushing the use of marijuana for recreational purposes underground will do more harm than good. Doing so, like sex works, which is still illegal, will open loopholes for police to extort and engage in more corruption-related activities.
Both sellers and smokers will suffer as well. (I support the decriminalization of prostitution, BTW. And I am okay with de facto use of marijuana for recreational purposes as long as it is properly regulated and hope when all the dust has settled, smoke cleared, we can talk about the decriminalization of marijuana for recreational purposes and have coffee shops like in Amsterdam welcoming people to smoke responsibly. Nevertheless, Thai society needs to have a consensus on the matter first.)
What we aspire to should be a mature society that respects freedom of choice and allows citizens to consume and smoke marijuana responsibly. There are real bad drugs out there to battle with – meth, ice, cocaine and even heroin and let us focus on battling these instead of the innocent-looking plants that is marijuana and their users.
After hearing all this, if you are still against the de facto use of marijuana for recreational purposes, then consider the positive impact on the local economy. I have seen a number of small-time weed vendors springing into the open legally selling both the weed and plants.
I hope people are now learning how to smoke responsibly as various government agencies are now trying to educate the public about the positive and negative effects of marijuana use. So chill brother. This is like a Berlin Wall falling and I know that it may feel like your moralistic world has evaporated on June 9 before your very eyes when you see de facto selling and smoking of marijuana for recreational purposes spreading.
Trust me, Thailand can emerge a more mature and responsible society if it can deal with the matter in a mature, non-knee jerk manner. If you feel your religion forbids you from being accommodating to weed, then I respect that, but Thailand is not a religious fundamentalist state, at least not according to the constitution, so please leave the matter a personal choice and a domestic affair in your household.
Now, for those who are all for the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. I say be empathetic to those who are shocked and outraged. These people have been taught at schools over the decades that marijuana is an evil plant, and it will take time for them to emerge from these decades long indoctrination and hang over.
Please understand their outrage when they realized that there is currently greater control over the advertisement of cigarettes than cannabis. Please understand the genuine fears of parents who worry that their teenage children will become potheads or seriously ill as a result of the consumption of food or cookies laced with unknown quantities of marijuana.
The truth is Thai society has no consensus on the use of cannabis for recreational purposes. It is hoped that in the months ahead we may be able to come to one that’s acceptable to most. Some compromises are inevitable, however.
Tell them we will play by ear and try to find a common ground acceptable to most if not all. Give them some space and time to adjust to the sudden shock. Reassure them that your vision for Thailand is not that of a nation of pot heads but a mature country that can deal with various substances responsibly and with reasonable level of regulations.
Remind them marijuana is better than Xanax and smoking it responsibly less harmful than cigarettes. Reassure them that after six months, the situation will calm, the hype will die down, and not everyone will be having a joint just like not everyone is a cigarette smoker simply because one can buy cigarettes at the nearest local convenience store. Then we can deliberate without getting triggered.
Both sides should not get triggered and resort to abusive words to accompany their extreme emotional outburst as I have seen over the past 10 days. You may smoke and chill. If that is not your cup of tea, then have tea or a cup of coffee instead.