“A table loaded with the ditch-weed you used to smoke before Thailand became the only country in Asia where possession is legal. See how lucky you are?” That’s my first caption for the pot bust photo-op.
580kg smuggled ganja seized. Before we make sense of the headline, let’s caption this again:
“Smugglers in broken down pick-up elude police in Thailand, leave them to dispose of nasty ditch-weed that no one wants.”
The Thai Navy was tipped off and the chase was on. The captain eyed the smugglers on the Thai river bank and navy ground patrol was on the way. The smugglers were fast however, and managed to ditch their truck loaded with the prohibited substance and… . No, wait. That is not the way this story goes. They managed to ditch their truck loaded down with perfectly legal substance — provided you have a permit to possess flower with an intention to sell legally.
Here’s the catch: The smuggling was not in violation of drug prohibition, but rather of the Customs Act and Plant Quarantine Act.
A truly bizarre legal limbo has emerged after the abrupt lifting of cannabis prohibition in a region that otherwise maintains its 100% zero tolerance for cannabis possession of any kind or amount. There are bureaucracies both public and private that have far less to do since Thailand’s cannabis legal reforms kicked in on the ninth of June 2022. And evidently, there are still cops and robbers who, like the old Japanese warriors on small islands across the Pacific after WW!!, could not and would not accept that the war was over.
The “brick weed” from Laos is typically of low quality and the market for it in Thailand has, in large measure, collapsed. Before Thailand lifted prohibition, “bricks” (including stems, seeds, and sometimes sprayed with toxins) would be broken down into smaller bricks of a couple grams and sold, mostly in reggae bars, for 1000 baht.
It was illegal as hell and included law enforcement intervention from time to time that amounted to shaking down foreigners who they knew were leaving with a brick in their pocket. That’s all gone now. Well, almost.
The chase that is prompted by smuggling a product that no one is much interested in, and whose illegality stems from it coming from across the river from Laos, ended in an old-fashioned phot-op.
To be clear, in Thailand, possession is legal; in fact, it would be hard to make the case that someone was “intending” to sell and ought to be punished for no license since there is no law stating the limits of personal possession. This is another trade-off made when Thailand decided to move forward with legalization prior to regulation. I think the only real case against the smugglers, who appear to have made a clean getaway, would be based on Navy witness testimony that they were the ones carting the bricks from Laos to Thailand. 5 ks or 580, I would think it’s all the same because there is. no. law.
They must apprehend fruit smugglers from time to time. Why don’t we have photos of middle-aged law enforcement striking a macho poses in front of tables with forbidden fruit?
Bushels of fruit carry no stigma. It would be incomprehensible to claim they did. But the stigma that still hangs around the neck of cannabis somehow makes its interception exciting to some. Hopefully, with education and the dying off of those in leadership whose minds still suffer from the viruses of propaganda, the day will come when standing in front of packs of brick weed will make as much sense as standing in front of heaps of rotten fruit.