The regulations governing cannabis sale and use in Thailand are sparse, but smuggling cannabis from outside the Kingdom’s borders is clearly illegal. Despite this, since day one of legalization, smuggled cannabis has filled the shelves of several dispensaries throughout Thailand. At the onset of legalization shops selling smuggled cannabis cited the lack of local supply to meet demand. Once supply grew, the same shops cited cheaper costs of smuggled cannabis. Today, with costs down and supply abundant, some shops point to demand amongst Thai purchasers who believe that anything imported is superior to that grown in Thailand.
We can thank basic market principles for eliminating the initial excuses for selling smuggled cannabis. An increase of supply eliminated quantity as an excuse to sell imports. Lower costs of getting to market, namely the ability to grow without hiding, brought the price of locally grown cannabis down. Supply will continue to expand as more growers increase their growing capabilities and quality—which will bring the price further down. In addition to those market forces, education, and proactive measures to celebrate high quality Thai growers are necessary to counter the erroneous notion that imported cannabis is superior to Thai cannabis. In fact, Thai cannabis is the highest quality and safest cannabis available within the Kingdom.
The increase in available high quality Thai cannabis has been documented throughout HighThailand’s pages. The number of elite growers in Thailand keeps on growing and the aggregate of their production has increased exponentially. We as a community need to do more to celebrate and promote what they are doing and producing. Shops throughout Thailand who have “the best weed” are using the best growers. They attach their reputations to what they sell and celebrate those top growers. Thailand’s best dispensaries are excellent because of their ability to curate the best flowers from the best growers. It is not a coincidence that these top dispensaries also sing the praises of the growers they feature.
In addition to master growers, numerous high level indoor and outdoor growers have been popping up on the scene (usually selling with their geographic vicinity) offering high quality and affordable cannabis. This was made particularly evident in HighThailand’s recent trip to Chiang Mai. The quality of these small, up and coming growers can be quite excellent. The growers themselves are readily available to discuss their flowers, how they are growing, and their ultimate aspirations in terms of product, quality and quantity. While their names currently may not have the weight of established master growers—they also need to be recognized and highlighted by any shops carrying their flowers. This acts both to celebrate their accomplished grows or hold them accountable for anything sub-standard.
Without an established or mandated quality control regime in place, the cannabis consumer in Thailand has no place to turn but the reputation of the grower. Following best growing practices and with transparent operations, the above mentioned growers are the closest thing we have to transparent quality control. Ultimately, it will be these same growers who help to establish the acceptable methodology and mechanisms used here in Thailand.
In general, the cannabis which is smuggled into Thailand is not of the same caliber as the cannabis described above. Furthermore, the sources of such smuggled cannabis are unknown with farms never identified. In many cases growers in California who cannot sell their crop locally because of quality control issues will sell those flowers to smugglers at cheap prices to salvage the costs of that failed crop. Those flowers are then dumped in Thailand where consumers are told that they are buying “Cali” cannabis and the name of the strain without any other detail. There is no doubt that the quality of cannabis in California is superb. But if you want to try that high quality California cannabis, fly to California where your cannabis will be accompanied by a wealth of information. The cannabis purchased above board in California is not the cannabis which is being smuggled into Thailand.
Smuggled cannabis is not the only dubious cannabis on the market. There is no shortage of Thai farms and growers producing complete dreck. Growers who are hastily moving through the curing process, using pesticides and trying salvage grows which should probably be trashed. These are not brick producers, or folks just having fun growing in their back yard, but rather growers trying to compete with legitimate farms and cut corners at the same time. We cannot pretend that this is acceptable, but we should also support a framework which allows these growers to improve their quality. This means first not selling anything which is of dubious quality and especially which may contain pesticides and otherwise have adverse health effects. But also supporting education, proper growth and patience to get through the long process correctly. Many of the master growers referred to above and their supporting shops are already implementing these programs.
Anyone who follows HighThailand will know that we are passionate about local cannabis. We seek it out, we smoke it, we review it, we love it when it is excellent—we enjoy it when it is acceptable—we toss it in the bin when it is sub-standard. We know that we are armchair quarterbacks in the Thai cannabis scene. We do not grow, we do not sell. We are merely consumers with the luxury of enjoying a wide array of Thai flowers and sharing our opinions. To this end we tip our caps to all the growers and shop keepers hustling out there, trying to make a living in a competitive industry filled with uncertainty. What you do is not easy and we appreciate this. But what you are doing now is so crucial for the future of Thai cannabis and the community. Without quality controls we, the consumer, rely on both responsible Thai growers and the shops selling their flowers to provide the transparency and basic information about the source of flowers and methods of growing. For all intents and purposes, ours is a self-regulating industry and we have no choice but to prove that we are effective self regulators. Today—without mandated quality controls—our best gauge for quality is knowing that our cannabis comes from a trustworthy and highly reputable local growers.