.One Million Plants: Can we learn from Thailand’s weed wisdom?

The times are truly changing. Weed will soon be abundant in Thailand.

One of the scariest countries to kick back and smoke a doob in the imagination of the western adventurer has been Thailand. We may have confused ourselves with Singapore in that regard, where drug possession can lead to caning. Thailand can still cane fools as punishment—that’s smacking your bare ass with a two-foot ritan rod up to 24 times, leading to lasting, searing pain—but actually its pot laws have been just the usual degree of severity found around the less tolerant countries of the world. 

That is until now. The constitutional monarchy and occasionally benevolent-ish military dictatorship has taken a series of steps toward commercial cannabis over the last year. Now, as recently reported in High Times and every other publication in the world, the government has taken the issue in hand and announced its intention to distribute one million (1,000,000!!!) cannabis plants for home growing. Yep, handing them out, free of charge.

Now all this weed is still meant to be for medical use only. Additionally, the commercial strains will be limited to 0.2% THC, which is even lower than the 0.3% THC allowed in the hemp-derived cannabis products that you can buy today over the counter in your local grocery across the U.S., infused, for example, in CBD bath balls.

While there are said to be no real controls on home grows, possession laws will remain in place for the foreseeable future. That means these home grows are not safely accessible to tourists. The once-best-of-all “thai stick” form factor must remain back in the mists of legend. You don’t want that five-year sentence for pot possession still on the books for rec use.

Just as it has been here in California, the medical acceptance of cannabis use in Thailand started with dedicated growers with first-hand experience of medical benefits. One such pioneer in Thailand was Aram Limsakul. A long standing grower, Limsakul was able to treat his children for the occasionally deadly dengue fever. He reported that his kids were able to eat for the first time after getting sick, dangerous levels of vomiting being one of the symptoms of dengue fever.

Limsakul has been an advocate of the plant for decades. In childhood, he lived with cannabis growing free in his backyard. He has been growing his own plants since 1991, being a source of inspiration and advice to Thais now for decades. He recommends the medical use of cannabis for many ailments.

“I used to grow 150 plants of cannabis at home. None of my children ever had to use antiseptics for wounds growing up,” the 61-year-old advocate was quoted as saying in the South China Morning Post. The paper reports that this wealth of wisdom has earned him the honorific, “Father.”

Now think on this for a minute. Pause to ruminate on this concept over your next quiet high. A nation of 70 million given 1 million plants to grow. That amounts to (according to my back of the napkin calculation) a plant given, for free you understand, to one out of every 20 homes in the country. Wow. 

As exciting as that sounds, the initiative does a lot more than just bulk up the nation’s weed supply. As the first country in southeast Asia to open up weed access to this degree, this extraordinary government gift will help to change minds on cannabis in a region which is both the source of some of the best weed in the world, and the region with the toughest laws on that same weed.

Putting a plant in every house is the kind of normalizing action that can really open up cultural and social barriers to access. It’s the kind of top down policy openly-inspired by grassroots leadership that we’d like to see more of here state-side.

The whole state-by-state, county-by-county approach can be so contentious. The back-breaking policy advocacy and endless regulatory irritation are enough to drive one to a sticky-ass indica. Just like we learned to make blunts from the aforementioned thai stick (Thai bud wrapped up with sticks and rolled in hash), so too could we possibly learn from the central government in Thailand. Washington, where you at?

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