Hundreds of plants and gallons of get-high oil were discovered at an agricultural research center northwest of Bangkok operating a small-scale weed empire allegedly distributing the goods through an upcountry temple.
When dozens of cops and soldiers rolled up on the Khao Kwan Foundation, they were surprised to find it had set aside its mandate to develop sustainable rice in favor of building a full-fledged criminal syndicate cultivating all types of herb products including oils, powders and capsules. As of Friday, police were preparing charges against the alleged ringleader.
“We were alerted that cannabis oil was being distributed at a temple up in the northern regions and we traced the production source to this foundation,” Suphanburi provincial police chief Maj. Gen. Khomsak Sumangkaset told Coconuts Bangkok this morning.
Yes, a temple – you read that right.
At Khao Kwan, officials discovered 205 marijuana plants, three gallons of boiling cannabis oil, about 500 grams ground into powder form, about 1,300 grams in capsule form, a bag of stick-brick and about 56 grams of cannabis seeds, reported Khaosod. The whole darn shabang.
Inside staff housing, they found another 57 weed capsules, 151 grams of seeds and about 81 grams of brick.
Six employees were detained and interrogated, however they claimed that foundation Director Decha Siriphat was the green operation’s kingpin.
An online profile describes Decha as “founder and chairman of the institution, [who] has been working for three decades in the integration of local knowledge and scientific discoveries to improve seeds, soil and pests insect management.” Update: Decha has since been cleared of wrongdoing and encouraged to apply for the FDA’s ongoing cannabis amnesty program.
At least one employee was more than a passive participant. Pornchai Chulert, 38, told police he operates the Ganja Revolution Facebook page and went as far to say that he’s presided over about 10 classes in producing cannabis oil. Students could take his class for THB2,000 (about USD$63) a pop, according to Morning News.
He currently faces charges of illegal cultivation and possession of a Class 5 narcotic. Remember kids, medical weed may be legal, but it’s not that legal.
Though Decha was conveniently out of the country until next week, police said they are preparing to obtain an arrest warrant on the same charges as Pornchai.
Meanwhile, all the illegal goods were confiscated by local police.
Though medical marijuana became legalized in Thailand on Christmas, those eligible for a prescription must get first get a medical certificate from licensed doctors – who are still being trained – while those interested in growing must apply for a license from the FDA.
To find out more about the kingdom’s medical marijuana awakening, check out Coconuts TV’s documentary mini-series available on Netflix now.
Update: This story has been updated to reflect that foundation director Decha was not prosecuted for any crime.
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