For 24 years of Rittipong “Beer” Dachkul’s life, weed could not be purchased legally. So camping out for the final few hours it was forbidden by law was worth it when, at 9:09am today, he became one of the first people to purchase it – fully legally.
“I’m happy about today,” he said at Highland Cafe this morning, where he was the first customer after camping out since 9:40pm last night. “I don’t have to hide [to buy weed] anymore.”
Several dozen people were in a growing line when Highland Cafe opened at 9am, one of many dispensaries now selling marijuana after its forbidden status ended at the stroke of midnight.
Nine strains were available at prices starting per gram at THB450 for a stoney Indica called Sunset Sherbert or functional sativa nugs of OG X Bubblegum. At the high end, Marcud Sugarcane, a sativa, sold for THB700.
Highland Cafe prohibits people from smoking inside or outside the premises.
Just yesterday, the first reading of a bill to liberalize cannabis consumption sailed through parliament in a 370:7 vote with 23 abstentions.
While using marijuana is now allowed, the government strongly encourages people to do so for medicinal or other “valid” purposes. But the effective result is the same: It is fully legal to smoke – just don’t bother the neighbors, as under updated regulations, repeat offenders who create a public nuisance face up to three months in jail and a THB25,000 fine.
Making secondary products such as hash or oils above 0.2% THC potency requires approval. People can grow weed plants at home, though the authorities encourage them to register via an app called Plook Ganja (“Grow Weed”).
Rittipong said that although Thailand has become the first Asian nation to decriminalize marijuana, it still has a long way to go because the people using it and law enforcement alike still have a lot to learn.
“Today is just the very first step,” he said.
Because there are not yet any regulations in place – not even an age limit – dispensaries are left to set their own rules for now. At Highland Cafe, they do not sell cannabis to people under 20 or pregnant women.
One notable result of today’s legalization is the anticipated freedom of thousands of prisoners receiving amnesty under legalization.
Highland has been one of the loudest advocates of legalizing cannabis for nearly a decade. On Saturday, its first 420 festival of the legal era will be held – delayed since April to a more auspicious date – 2 at Had Sai Kao, a man-made beach in Nakhon Pathom’s Nakhon Chaisi district that is about an hour from downtown Bangkok. Tickets are THB600 online.