The Gang Goes to Thailand: Ganja in Bangkok (Part 1)

Musings from an Exploration into Thailand’s Newly Legal Cannabis Scene
Thailand
Photo Credit: Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

I’m sitting at the Suvarnabhumi airport trying to recap the madness that’s occurred over the past week while it’s fresh in my mind. I’ll be honest, my brain is pretty mush after cooking through over 100 blunts in less than a week. We consumed an entire original thai stick in brothers broadleafs & backwoods – which was quite possibly a world’s first, but surely a serious load for my lungs. If that wasn’t though, smoking an entire stick in a night was DEFINITELY a world record. Even the Thai Stick OG, Han Singh, who has been doing this since he was 15 years old (he’s 74 now) was floored to see how excited we were to try his legendary wares, and how much we could smoke. He brought us a whole stick – which they swear were hundreds of grams – but we cooked through that bad boy in basically one sitting (or evening, more accurately). I imagine it was closer to an ounce and a half, and I was surprised at how well Han kept up.

This is a good introduction to the Thai scenery now. Although there are dispensaries every few feet – with even entire strip malls dedicated to housing over 20 different dispensaries and consumption lounges, it’s clear that the Thai market is still getting its feet under them. After all, the sudden legalization left a lot of room for gray area operations that have since begun to become more regulated. For example, they have officially closed down consumption rooms until they can set up a licensing procedure for it, and while it’s technically not legal to smoke in public, it was clear the city’s filling up with that delectable aroma just like NYC. Further, I saw like one cop the entire time I was there, and we were far from the only ones smoking on street corners.

Even more surprising, however, was the lack of true Thai genetics that are available in the market. Sure a lot of Cali genetics have made their way out to the far east – we saw a lot of Runtz and Gelato – and edibles and concentrates are still banned for recreational consumption, but it was immediately clear that it was important to the Thai community to do things their own way. They’ve been trying to hunt down their local genetics that were largely lost during the prohibition days, prioritizing canopy for landraces as opposed to what we’d consider market-viable. And if you ask any of the newly legal operators they’ll all say the same thing: “Oh man, Thai Stick, that’s like the great white buffalo now – we haven’t seen one of them in years.” 

Turns out it only took seasoned road warriors Jimi and I 5 days to find. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Photo Credit: Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

*Flash Backward*

Let’s first zoom out a bit to clarify how this trip came about. This wasn’t some thoroughly planned adventure. Oh no, in fact I didn’t have an active passport or any idea I’d be going the month prior. Sometime in the middle of November during another weed-filled journey my friend Josh, Chief Operations Officer at High Rise, asked me if I’d be interested in coming to Bangkok with him and his crew. I had been hearing rumblings of my friend, America’s favorite pot critic, Jimi Devine’s planned trip, though at the time hadn’t realized it was the same one. Once Josh made that clear obviously I couldn’t miss the opportunity. 

I will disclose here that the trip was planned and funded by Bangkok Urban Green, who requested nothing but to show us around and for us to document our experiences however we saw fit. Basically the easiest way for me to write the real shit, and not just the glitz and glam the brands are focused on you seeing, is to give you the true story of our antics. But don’t worry, there’s a slew of content around our trip for you to dig into. High Rise has released their 30 minute documentary, and Jimi his coverage. But I’m going to take a little bit of a different approach here, having been to the country before.

Photo Credit: Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

A Brief History Lesson

You see, I was in Thailand like a decade ago shortly after finishing college, and it was an entirely different beast. While in the past you’d have a much easier time finding benzos and opiates over the counter at the pharmacies of Khao San, it seems all those shops have since switched to dispensaries, making the new school Khao San an entirely different experience than what I was used to. Also worth noting the last trip we only spent like 3 days in Bangkok. Admittedly it was a much seedier place back then. It was impossible to find weed, but pills were everywhere. So you know? When in Rome.

But man, has the game changed in the last ten years. Over the last year, really. Last time I barely wanted to hang in Bangkok – I was ready to explore the jungles, and the islands. But this time we didn’t leave the city, and I’m really glad I got to see a full view of what Bangkok has to offer. That boat tour alone was one of the trippiest experiences of my life – from passing slums to mega mansions to temples to super malls was not what I expected when we got on the boat, but I had no complaints. In fact, I was amazed at not only the sights, but of Jim’s ability to roll a wood on a speeding boat, and the mid-water maneuvers we were made to undertake in order to take pictures in the Tuk Tuk boat, leaving me feeling like a parkour expert.

But maybe I should zoom back out to the beginning for a second to really run down all the shenanigans the boys got into that week. It was admittedly a lot, even for us.

The Details

The cast of characters for this trip was as follows. We had Erin and Derek, the founders of the High Rise Agency, Josh, who I already mentioned is their COO, Jimi Devine, in my opinion the best pot journalist in America, and me, your friendly neighborhood deviant.

It’s worth noting that as soon as we got to the airport security turned Erin’s passport away because it had a very minor rip on it. We tried to get tape from another gate to fix the issue but the friggin airline took it upon themselves to call the State Dept and let them know the passport was damaged, so no luck. Unfortunately Erin wasn’t able to join us on our flight, and missed the first few days. That said, I want to take this opportunity to give a massive shout out to our State Rep, Ted Lieu, for helping sort our documents with the Department of State in an extremely expedited manner. 3/5 passports we needed for this trip were obtained within the last two weeks, and it’s all thanks to our friend Teddy – just so you know brother, you’ve got our votes for life! 2/5 of those were planned, and Erin was a surprise bonus a few days later. All things considered, it worked out.

So we get on the plane sans Erin for what will amount to an almost 24 hr travel day, and given that there’s an almost 15 hr difference between here and LA we lost a solid day on the way in – though we ARE about to have a 36 hour day today on our return, so I guess that makes up for it. But I’ll be honest, this was the longest I was going to go without smoking in recent memory, so I wasn’t entirely excited for the journey. Fortunately Xanax exists and I slept through the vast majority of the flight to Taiwan. 

It’s worth noting we brought absolutely no THC with us on this journey as Taiwan is still one of the less friendly ports to our ilk left in the world, and we didn’t want to take any chances. Thank god we didn’t, because they made us go through security to get to our layover. From there we linked with Jimi, who had taken the first leg of the journey solo en route from SFO, and jumped on the next plane – just a quick 4 hr jump this time. We didn’t sleep this leg – the excitement was really starting to set in. (Remember, I had less than a month’s knowledge we’d even be going – I was fully convinced this wouldn’t happen, so this was still absolutely surreal.) Before long, we landed in Bangkok.

Photo Credit: Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

We Made It

Now, before the flight I let our hosts know about how this gap in consumption was probably going to affect me. I wasn’t expecting to be in a great mood, so I politely requested they meet us with some weed so we could expedite the process of getting back up to speed. They obliged, and met us at the airport with a blunt already rolled. We smoked that in the smoking section before leaving the airport. They were surprised, however, when we asked for more. You see, Thailand is still fairly timid in their consumption. With most residents smoking at most a gram a day (approx. $30 USD, or 900 Baht), they had no idea what they were in for with us. We were rolling blunts that would satisfy the whole group’s expected daily consumption every time. 

As it was still technically morning when we arrived they made a call and had more brought to the first stop on our journey.

Naturally, before we went into the first stop we met the guy and rolled and smoked two blunts. As I said, we were getting up to speed, and taking in the fact that we were now on the other side of the world. Though things hadn’t gone exactly to plan, we [most of us] made it. We rejoiced. 

Photo Credit: Derek Fukuhara, High Rise
Photo Credit: Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

Starting The Tour

Our first stop was the final day of Southeast Asia’s first Hemp Expo. Admittedly looking way closer to MJ Biz Con than I expected, we were primarily here to meet with the hemp company that the Queen had started – coincidentally the first cannabis license granted after legalizing. Go figure. Well it turns out she’s no longer with the company, but they’re definitely doing a LOT, and over the course of the few minutes we spent with them we learned how they’ve been using hemp for cloth in Thailand forever, and while the war on drugs stopped them from fucking with cannabis for awhile, the hemp game never slowed down. The versatility in the textiles they showed us was crazy, but the fact that they all began from the same source material was the biggest trip. 

Photo Credit: Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

I don’t remember much else from the Hemp Expo – I was exhausted and trying to smoke more. I remember joking with the guys that this wasn’t what we expected to see on the other side of the globe, having successfully avoided the showroom floor of the aforementioned convention the month prior. In my lamenting, someone overheard and asked if we were from the States. He was a Cali transplant who was trying to take advantage of the opportunity that presented itself out there right now. He had some work with him, and it turned out to be much better than the local we’d tried thus far, so I stopped the group to get an eighth ($75 USD). We rolled that up and smoked it before getting back in the van. 

From there it was off to our hotel, finally. Although it was still technically our first day in Thailand it had been like 3 calendar days since I’d seen a bed due to the long flight and time traveling, and I was ready to crash. We arrived at the Pullman King Power Bangkok, which seemed to be one of the nicest hotels in town. A night in this spot runs around $100-$250 USD, which is a fortune in Thailand, but standard for roach motels in the states. This was not that. They put us in the ‘executive’ section at the top of the tower, with access to a private buffet and drinks throughout the day. Not that we got to take much advantage of the meals – actually the guys probably did, I was never up for breakfast – but I definitely enjoyed their fresh juices. No one told me until the fourth day that I wasn’t supposed to leave the lounge with the juices, but that says something about Thai hospitality and their desire to please.

Photo Credit: Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

No Rest for the Wicked

Somehow instead of going to bed we were persuaded to join the local gang for a drink at this rooftop bar not too far away. While I’ll admit, I was an absolute vegetable and teetering on passing out, I’m glad I got to check this place out. I have no idea what this place was called, but it definitely made me feel like I was somewhere else. While they had a welcoming smoking section with an excellent view, probably the most exciting thing about this spot was this multi-story glowing jellyfish dancing above the bar. I have no idea what it was for, or if it was some famous art installation, but I was very geeked on it and it kept my attention as I patiently (lol) waited to go get into bed.

Although we’d only just landed it was already clear that the country’s landscape has changed drastically in the ten years I’d been gone. When in the past the only drugs I could reliably find were the type you’d get from a pharmacy, here we were less than 24 hours in and every sort of recreational had already been practically shoved in our faces. I might be exhausted, but I’m already loving the new look of this place.

*When I realized how long this piece would be I posted a poll on Twitter asking if you all would prefer one long mega story, or for it to be broken down into smaller bite sizes. The overwhelming majority voted for chapters, so here we are. I’ll see you in a few days with part two.*

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2 comments
  1. Mr. Cappetta,
    Reading about your high flower tolerance gives me buzz. I expect to see some Thailand Kathoey in an upcoming chapter. They’re among the most beautiful beings on the planet!

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