In the early noughties, Soranut “Beer” Masayavanich was a child star appearing on Thai television. Working in the industry, of course, introduced him to drugs. But after the tabloids picked up on a bust for weed, he never worked again – no one would hire him.
That’s how things were two decades ago: Drugs were bad. Period.
Today’s legalization of marijuana was sweet vindication for Beer, now 37, who spent 20 years campaigning for it to happen and this morning opened a fantastically named downtown shop. It’s called Sukhumweed.
“I couldn’t believe it’s happening today. I was actually crying on the way here. A lot of tears of joy. I was driving here thinking, ‘Fuck, is this really happening? Is this really happening?”
On the store’s first day, customers were already streaming in to buy buds made from excellent and rare strains such as RS-11 (Rainbow Sherbert No. 11), as well as Zkittlez, Crescendo, and Cereal Milk. They also browsed T-shirts, candles, grinders, bongs – and even some bottles of weed-infused fermented fish.
Prices for the weed range from THB250 for a gram of the cheap stuff while the true kine runs upward of THB800.
As many are still waking to the new reality of fully legal weed – as Coconuts has been reporting for six months, sometimes to internet skepticism – people like Beer who saw it coming were ready to go on day one.
Opening a shop? Anyone can do it: no special license, no government approval required.
Sourcing is the bigger issue. Beer and his two partners, Siraphop “Non” Rahong and the Parin Tongwaranan – planted the seeds well in advance and have three production farms growing the stuff up in northern Nong Khai province.
Beer said he first imported respected strains from places like the United States but is experimenting with developing Thai varieties he is sure can compete. He wants Thai weed to stand on its own, especially as domestic growers fear being pushed aside by foreign imports.
It helps to have connections, but what Beer had, that the public struggled with, was solid information. It’s enough to invest years of preparation in for this day.
He said he is close to a top bureaucrat who helped write the regulations, and he has worked with its biggest promoters in recent years at the Bhumjaithai Party. Non has close connections with the owners of a hospital, which helped him obtain permission to start growing a dank strain called Fallen Angel on his few rai of land about a year ago.
“No, it was not easy,” he said. “It helps to have connections.”
Non also sells apparel while Parin deals grow equipment under the brand “T-Rex.”
As for the clever name, Sukhumweed wasn’t new. Beer adopted the moniker selling weed around the Sukhumvit area for years, when it was definitely illegal. So opening a store in Lat Phrao was out of the question.
Beer noted how Thailand has pivoted a complete 180-degrees on marijuana use. From being scolded and ostracized by society as a teen to today, when most people – including his weed-curious grandparents – have embraced it as a totally normal thing.
For someone who was hurt by once-draconian drug laws and the social taboo, today was a little more than just vindication – it was a bit of sweet vengeance.
“I waited so long for this day, to show the showbiz world, to say, ‘In your face, bitches!’” he said, gleefully.
Sukhumweed is located in Soi Sukhumvit 42 near Rama IV Road. It’s open 11am to 9pm every day. Call 063-928-1888 for more information.