Thailand opened several legal cannabis cafes late last week following the nation’s recent decriminalization of adult-use cannabis.
"Europeans, Japanese, Americans – they are looking for Thai sativa," Ong-ard Panyachatiraksa, the owner of RG420, said to Reuters. "Cannabis and tourism are a match."
Like every tourist destination globally, Thailand’s industry took a major hit during the COVID-19 lockdowns, and it still hasn’t entirely recovered during the pandemic, even as the world reopens and attempts a return to normalcy.
According to Reuters, Thailand hosted nearly 40 million tourists pre-pandemic, or a whopping 12% of the nation’s GDP. For comparison, the healthcare and social services industries make up 12% of the US GDP.
By the first six months of 2022, Thailand only hosted a dismal 2 million in 2022.
In 2019, Thailand became the first Asian nation to legalize medical cannabis. This year, it became the first to also decriminalize cannabis in most instances. The Thai government is also Asia’s first to create its own cannabis strain, Issara-01.
Thailand has a long history of being one of the world’s ganja-friendly hubs. The iconic landrace strain, a genuine sativa known simply as “Thai” or “Thai weed,” altered cannabis genetics in the West forever. The Thai people are also credited with designing what is, essentially, one of the world’s first blunts, the “Thai stick.”
Thailand’s prime minister even hit a weed vape pen during a live press conference. Imagine if Canada’s Justin Trudeau or President Biden did the same thing.
While Thailand is the latest country to join the world’s great weed legalization experiment — alongside countries such as Uruguay, Canada, Israel, and, hopefully soon, the United States — some Thai government officials are concerned lax cannabis laws will have negative consequences.
If those consequences include a revitalized economy, decentralized healthcare, and a less-burdened justice system, those sound like awesome consequences to us. Reefer Madness fears, such as legalized weed causing widespread violence, mental illness, drug addiction, or traffic fatalities, haven’t held up under scientific scrutiny.
So, if you’re feeling lucky about traveling during the pandemic (yes, the pandemic is still ongoing), and you’ve got several thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket, why not hit up Thailand and help a progressive country out?
Cover image via