Over the last few months, L.A. Weekly has spent more time in Bangkok, Thailand covering the developing cannabis scene than anyone.
Thailand took the international cannabis scene by storm last June when it announced it would be decriminalizing cannabis after having first made a move to legalize medical cannabis in 2018. Thais were initially suspect of decrim, but once they saw the government start letting people out of prison for cannabis offenses, they knew it was about to be on.
And boy was it. In the months since it’s now estimated that Bangkok has opened north of 700 to 800 dispensaries with another opening every few days. The first budtender that helped us on our second trip at the 24-hour Thai Terps lounge told us he was preparing to open up his own shop in the next few weeks.
The common number tossed around on how much it costs to start a full retail storefront at the moment is about 500,000 Thai Baht. That’s the equivalent of just over $15,000 USD. This has led to a surge of cannabis access in Thailand that is more reminiscent of Oklahoma than California. It was a lot easier to get a permit out the gate in Oklahoma before they started to tighten things up than it ever was in California. Remember the METRC protests!! Thai influencers are now protesting the fact shops are writing ID numbers down, imagine what they would think of full track and trace.
On our first trip to Thailand just before The Emerald Cup, our biggest mistake was not visiting Sokhumweed. While we were there in November, JJ-NYC of Top Dawg Seeds invited me to come to rage with him and Arjan from Green House Seed Co. That originally put it on my radar.
When we arrived at the shop unannounced, its founder Beer spotted us quickly. The dude just loves weed. He took us over to view a spread of portraits from the Cookies opening a week prior that he’d got printed fast enough to have Berner sign one before leaving after the big launch in Bangkok. That’s how much Beer loves weed.
“I opened a day early in June,” Beer told L.A. Weekly with a laugh. “What were they going to do? Throw me in prison for 12 hours?”
Beer was part of the legislative effort to push cannabis reform in Thailand, so with his eye on the ball, he got things rolling on Sokhumweed a couple of months prior to opening.
“So after witnessing this policy develop over the last seven years, I got the keys to the shop about three days before we opened,” Beer said before noting the shop is working with about 15 farms at the moment, many run by Beer’s longtime friends he’s excited to support.
Another thing Thailand has in common with Oklahoma is the fact most of the best weed ever seen there is from California. Not all of it, but the vast majority.
This had led to this weird situation where people don’t believe the heat is grown in Thailand. I was carrying around some absolutely gas Double Dawg, some of the best fuel/petrol aromas I’ve ever seen outside the U.S. When I showed it to Thais, they tried to convince me it was the fresh stuff from California. So to an extent, the weed in Thailand got good so fast that they don’t even believe it.
But it’s also fair for folks to question things a bit. Sure, the best stuff coming from California is absolutely balls-to-the-wall heat, but it’s few and far between. Most of the California stuff is product from mid-2022 that people had trouble moving in the flooded U.S. market. And a lot of that year-old stuff is in fact better than some of the Thai product being grown without any real standard operating procedures known for producing heat here in the U.S.
But regardless, the demand is there for the local product. Most coming into Sokhumweed are looking for Thai-grown cannabis. For those wondering what local strains to keep an eye out for, Beer argues the Freaky Buddha is one the best hybridizations of a Thai landrace at the moment.
Beer made the Freaky Buddha from a Thai landrace and Freakshow. Freakshow is famous for its unique look. While the nine seeds of Freaky Buddah he popped had a lot of males, he’s thankful he found a winner.
Another similarity between the United States and Thailand? The government weed sucks. On our second visit, we stopped by a facility growing medical cannabis for the government. It was probably a pinch nicer than the things that have come out of the University of Mississippi, but it could not compare to the other indoor operations we saw in Bangkok.
Here is the documentary on our first trip to Bangkok in November.
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