Patong Police on Monday night busted seven people for illegally processing weed. Police apprehended the seven individuals on Bangla Road…The Thaiger
Inspecting Cannabis Dispensaries in Thailand with The Department of Thai Traditional Medicine
The charges are good news. I’m not celebrating the arrests. I’m simply saying — take a look at this: they could not bust them for weed. All of those laws have been vaporized. The seven people taken into custody are accused of “processing controlled herbs without permission”.
The good news however, is tightly connected to the bad: we don’t know what the evidence was. Oil? Edibles? There aren’t many other options, unless they had an extractor in the back and were home-processing extracts – which seems the least likely. Wax isn’t much of a thing here. What is it that put the bee in law enforcement’s bonnet?
We do know that the law against unlicensed cannabis extracts with more than .02% THC is still on the books. We also know that several other dispensaries, tucked away in villages far away from the tourist strip in Patong, have also been visited by the same combination of law enforcement with a traditional Thai medicine staffer at the tip of the spear. No one was arrested in these visits which is why it’s not news. Yet it becomes news when you see it as part of a new pattern. It is also notable that they came equipped with body armor and a machine gun.
If you say, “Nothing to see here, there is often a breakdown in a shakedown that leads to arrests in Thailand”, you still have to explain the evidence identified by the “staffer from the Department of Traditional Thai Medicine”. That would be the most important part of the puzzle to the thousands of people depending on what today is a booming legal Thai Ganja sector.
The other important fact on the scene is the central character: the “staffer from the Department of Thai Traditional Medicine.” When did their rise in the ranks of law enforcement occur, exactly? This is not the first bust in which a DTTM took center stage.
I was introduced to the DTTM via their practitioners who are interested in well-being and cannabis. The practitioners I know and know of are not law enforcement types. Anything but. Clearly, the practitioners, who helpfully assist cannabis patients in dispensaries around Thailand, have their own enforcers. This idea appeals to me. Deeply.
The Enforcers: Thai Traditional Medicine Staffers
Here’s my break down the context where the Department of Thai Traditional Medicine plays a decisive role in the enforcement of cannabis regulations in the retail space. The DTTM, that calls the shots on the streets before a bust is made. Busting a cannabis dealer is a big deal. If he says he has a license and there’s no reason to doubt it, but he cannot produce, they tell them they will be back to check. Yet, as far as I can ascertain, the DTTM is under the health ministry, which makes perfect sense when you consider the practitioners; it’t the enforcers that surprise. It’s understood that DTTAM is responsible for the study and use of traditional herbs including cannabis,
The educational wing and the Enforcer wing of DTAMM work to enlighten consumers on the benefits of cannabis and to fight rule-breakers who would pollute the marketplace with unknown substances.
Evidently, under this regime, that responsibility extends to policing those who handle the special herbs commercially without permission. And this makes total sense. It seems odd from a western perspective I believe because law enforcement their is centralized with one gated entry. The structure I am piecing together here is more graphic novel or odd-ball superhero film. The practitioners who treat patients with ancient remedies and use cannabis for a range of ailments and disorders, must protect the plants they love. These plants and herbs need protection from people who would harm the good name of the plant and perhaps harm the patients too.
What to do? You create a team of enforcers to go out on the streets in the name of the plant, in the name of the patients and n the name of liberty. Let’s call this the “Marvel Comics” of cannabis regulation enforcement”. The Enforcers will be incentivized as protectors of what Thai traditional medicine stands for. Now, the practitioners have incentive to identify rule breakers who threaten their sector. And they are out in front, limiting the chances of old school shakedowns, at least to a degree.
Takeaway: Make Sure You Keep It Legal
Make nice with DTTAM. Network with their practitioners and discuss regulations over cannabis tea, lest you try something stupid and their enforcers pay you a visit with bullet proof vests and machine guns.