By Tassanee Vejpongsa and Grant Peck / AP News
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand made it legal to cultivate and possess marijuana as of Thursday, like a dream come true for an aging generation of pot smokers who recall the kick the legendary Thai Stick variety delivered.
The stated intention of the country’s public health minister to distribute 1 million marijuana seedlings, beginning Friday, has added to the impression that Thailand is turning into a weed wonderland.
Some Thai advocates celebrated Thursday morning by buying marijuana at a cafe that had previously been limited to selling products made from the parts of the plant that do not get people high. The dozen or so people who turned up at the Highland Cafe were able to choose from a variety of buds with names such as Sugarcane, Bubblegum, Purple Afghani, and UFO.
“I can say it out loud, that I am a cannabis smoker. I don’t need to hide like in the past when it was branded as a illegal drug,” said 24-year-old Rittipong Bachkul, the day’s first customer.
So far, it appears there would be no effort to police what people can grow and smoke at home, aside from registering to do so, and declaring it is for medical purposes.
“As far as the government is concerned, it’s their job to promote medical use only. But it is pretty clear that we have come very far and finally are legalizing its use. The government understands that it’s more pros than cons,” Rattapon Sanrak, the cafe’s co-owner and a longtime legalization activist, told The Associated Press.