Buriram postpones epic weed festival due to growing anxiety, legal fears

Photo: Pan Buriram / Facebook
Photo: Pan Buriram / Facebook

A celebration of marijuana’s decriminalization next month in the cannabis-growing heartland was postponed indefinitely today due to legal uncertainties.

Organizers of the Pan Buriram festival, set to go off late November in Buriram province, said that there were too many unresolved legal issues, particularly on matters relating to production, to bring all the cannabis tribes together in good conscience.

“It just doesn’t feel right,” said Pan Buriram founder Chidchanok “Nan” Chidchob. “I dont think it’s possible for the vendors, or the growers, or [to hold a growing] competition.”

What gave organizers pause was parliament’s decision last month to withdraw the Cannabis Act. While the bill contained few provisions affecting consumption, it would have enacted a raft of regulations and controls on the production side; namely, how growers can obtain licenses to be in full compliance with the law. 

‘It’s idiotic’: Advocates say lawmakers playing politics with Cannabis Act

“Obviously, I’m pro-cannabis,” Nan said. “But at the same time, there are laws to respect. We don’t want to put anyone at risk of breaking the law.”

Initially, word of the festival’s postponement sparked rumors that it was due to an impending reversal in the law that would re-criminalize weed. That was not the case, said the 30-year-old scion of Newin Chidchob, an influential political kingmaker who previously led the Bhumjaithai Party.

Bhumjaithai, now led by Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, pushed through weed’s decriminalization on the basis it would benefit public health – and the rural farmers comprising its base. The leader of the largest opposition party, Pheu Thai’s Chonlanan Srikaew announced Monday that he wanted to see Bhumjaithai disbanded for pushing through cannabis liberalization. 

Isaan 420: Epic weed festival returns to Buriram in November

The festival’s second edition – the first was held pre-pandemic in 2019 – was to feature everything from a strong music lineup with the likes of Milli and Joey Boy to a weed strain competition.

Nan assured that the festival “definitely” will happen, just “as soon as there’s more clarity in how people can go about cultivating.”

For now, she said that all ticket holders would be able to obtain full refunds.

Cannabis was fully decriminalized in June, months after the Narcotics Control Board voted to delist it as a controlled substance. The Cannabis Act was not taken up by parliament until one day earlier, despite being submitted months in advance.

Last month, opposition lawmakers voted the bill down, complaining it did not contain enough controls to rein in recreational smoking. The result was to leave in place the post-decriminalization status quo of few controls beyond an age limit.

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