Young entrepreneurs in Thailand have taken advantage of the country’s new approach to cannabis, even if it remains illegal to consume the drug recreationally.
Thailand’s recent decision to decriminalize marijuana has inspired a lot of young people who want to make their mark on the new and exciting industry.
Aljazeera spoke with some of the country’s residents, who are seeing a cannabis product boom, from pre-rolled joints to Sriracha bottles with a weedy twist.
“My age group ‘Gen Z’ don’t really drink alcohol but we do smoke weed,” said Mada, a 21-year-old woman who works at a weed dispensary in eastern Thailand. Her outlook on cannabis stands in contrast to that of the Thai government, which claims to have legalized the plant to make it easier for growers and consumers to access cannabis for medicinal and culinary purposes.
Still, consumers and those invested in weed are taking advantage of this newly adopted lax attitude, setting up businesses of their own through the comfort of their smartphones.
“Since the law changed you see across Instagram stories about how many of my age group now have a new chance to make a living,” said Mada. As is the case with most businesses, it becomes way easier to get a public with the help of social media. In the case of cannabis, these hashtags and offers are disguised (#saikiew, which means “green way of life”), yet they still result in profitable business ventures.
While the laws are allowing people interested in making money with cannabis to operate with relative freedom, experts expect this will change soon. The Thai government is under pressure to control cannabis’ growth and to educate the public on the purpose of the drug under Thai laws. They’re also concerned on the effect of the plant on children and whether or not this new environment makes it more likely for them to have access to the drug.
Still, it may be too late to control cannabis. The switch is flipped. “It is interesting to see how society changes with the thought of the ‘cha-ching’ (money),” said Chokwan “Kitty” Chopaka, a longtime cannabis advocate. “Suddenly a ‘druggie’ turns into a business person and a bedroom grower turns into a master grower.”