He’s a Bangkok cop who sells weed off duty. It’s complicated.

Sgt. Sutthiporn ‘M’ Boonsa-ard, police officer and weed shop owner of Crazy Roll, prepares a bong for his customers. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok
Sgt. Sutthiporn ‘M’ Boonsa-ard, police officer and weed shop owner of Crazy Roll, prepares a bong for his customers. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

“Hi, welcome. How’re you doing?” the man greets customers with a smile as they push through the glass door. He wears gloves and a white shirt over a black tee. The buzz cut familiar at every police station, covered here with a dark beanie, explains why his regular customers refer to him as “Sgt. M.” 

It’s been over six months since Thailand decriminalized cannabis. New Bangkok dispensaries are opening each day as more people get their hands in the business, and that hasn’t left out authority figures like Sutthiporn “M” Boonsa-ard, a cop now busting people over pot by day and selling it to them by night.

“On duty, I chase off people for smoking weed publicly. Off duty, I sell weed and have a good time,” M said, laughing. 

The 32-year-old Bangkok man has been a police officer for nine years – seven spent guarding a royal residence and the past two assigned to the Buppharam Police Station just across the river from the old quarter in Thonburi.

Each day, when M gets off duty, he heads northwest down the road to open his weed shop in Taling Chan. It’s called Crazy Roll.

Cops like him were long known for stopping, searching, seizing, and arresting people over weed, but that changed after June. 9, when Thailand decriminalized cannabis with few rules imposed. Police can no longer bust people for possession, but they can still take action if someone causes a nuisance in public or sells weed with a fake license.

Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

A weed user himself for years, M said he was “elated” when weed could be bought and sold legally. The moment that he heard Highland Cafe had opened its doors, M decided to start his own with some friends.

“If weed wasn’t decriminalized, I wouldn’t dare [talking about this out loud],” he said.

A few months later, M and his friends set up the small shop tucked above a craft beer bar. Unlike other dispensaries, Crazy Roll feels like chilling in a friend’s living room thanks to the bean bags and pillows laying around. His modest wooden bar countertop provides equipment like pipes and bongs – even a vaporizer – for customers to smoke on-site, which could be a no-no. 

It took only a few weeks for M to grow a regular following, which he credited to his long-time connections in underground weed circles and word of mouth. Some of them are even cop colleagues from the station. On a Thursday night, two police officers walked in, greeted M, and asked for a bong hit.

“I even invited my supervisor to check out my shop,” M said.

Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

Curiosity opens a door

The first time M smoked weed was when he was 17. He was at a music festival in Pattaya when one of his friends handed him a joint. Puffing it, M noticed that the sensation he got was unfamiliar. 

“Apparently I was high,” he said. “And I was curious why it felt different from getting drunk from booze.”

That curiosity led M to the internet, where he learned more about weed through Thai-language discussion forums like Pantip or the now-defunct Pramool.com. Google and YouTube sites followed. The more information he got, the more curious he became.

“I never saw what a weed flower really looked like. Back then, I only knew brick weed that came with lizard eggs or cockroaches,” M said, recounting the days when weed was illegal in Thailand and many relied on low-quality, smuggled weed compressed into a dense brick. 

“So I started to grow my own,” he said. “I began with 10-12 plants on my apartment balcony.”

Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

That’s how M learned about cannabis characteristics, from tastes and scents to terpenes. Then he learned how to dry and cure the buds for consumption and sold some of them underground.

Of course, that was before M joined the force in his early 20s. After that, he continued smoking weed, but more discreetly. He didn’t let his colleagues know about his “outlaw hobby.”

“I didn’t have so many choices. Being a law enforcement officer is obviously a more stable career in terms of income and benefits, so I had to behave myself.”

Even after Thailand decriminalized weed, the Royal Thai Police publicized a formal order that officers cannot get high on the job as it would “ruin the positive image” of the Thai police.

Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

‘Simply doing my job’

Today, M still chases down those who smoke weed in public when his police station receives a complaint. Arrests are virtually unheard of as officers are obligated to issue a warning before imposing any penalty. 

A couple of times, M said he’s had to warn weed smokers to move farther away from a school or temple area. 

Just a few weeks ago, he went to the Phra Pok Klao Bridge to chase away a homeless group that was hanging out and smoking weed underneath the bridge. He shooed them away and seized their bong.

“I showed them the regulations on my phone and told them they could not smoke there. I had to warn them because a resident reported and complained. I was simply doing my job.”

Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

But when he is off duty or during his break time, M does not hesitate to light up a joint. M repeatedly said that he used to be a hot head, but weed helped him calm down and relax. He said weed came to the rescue when he was working night shifts at the station. 

“There were times I had to be on duty from midnight until 8am, I tried coffee and M150, and my heart started to race very hard,” M said, referring to a Thai energy drink.

“So the next day, I tried weed instead. I remember that it was Strawberry Cough grown in Surin province. I smoked it on the police station’s rooftop … I felt so relaxed, focused, and could work smoothly until my shift ended.” 

“If one day I’m in charge, I would allow my subordinates to smoke weed during breaks,” he teased.

Clear rules needed

Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

With Thailand’s Cannabis Act stalled, weed has been easily available across the country. Weed shops and dispensaries have mushroomed around town with a variety of strains, quality grades, and prices to choose from. 

Asked if Thailand might recriminalize weed again, M said things have gone too far to go back to that point. 

“Weed won’t be illegal again, if you ask me,” he said. “But the next question is what kind of regulations will be put in place?”

With the government flip-flopping and a lack of clear rules, Thailand’s legal cannabis scene has settled into an ongoing paranoia that has left business owners confused and vulnerable. In late July, a new order instructed police to arrest and prosecute those selling cannabis without a provisional license. The order was revoked only 24 hours later. 

M said he worries sometimes that his weed shop will be shut once the regulations are in place, and it becomes harder for small business owners to thrive. 

“It’s the unclear and confusing rules that often give me anxiety and stress,” M said. “I am willing to do everything right [by the law], only if the government makes it straightforward.”

Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

While the authorities look to what regulations the United States has in place, M said Thailand should “pave its own way” and set up its own rules that match its consumers.

“There are no universal weed laws. Even those in Europe and the United States are not the same,” he said. “We are Asia and we have our own culture, so why don’t we come up with our own rules? We can even be a role model for other potential countries like Laos or Japan.”

It’s only been three months since M opened Crazy Roll. In the future he wants to launch a weekly event where customers can socialize and participate in activities like drawing or painting. 

“I opened Crazy Roll because I want to create a new community,” he said. “Or else why would I invest in this business? I’d rather sell weed underground like usual.”

Crazy Roll is located inside The Fence Craft Beer Bar in Bangkok’s Taling Chan area. It can be reached by motorbike or taxi from MRT Bang Khun Non.

Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok
Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok
Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

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