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Thailand Makes Marijuana Legal, But Smoking Is Discouraged

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The first customer of the day, Rittipomng Bachkul celebrates after buying legal marijuana at the Highland Cafe in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, June 9, 2022. Sakchai Lalit/AP

Thailand made it legal to cultivate and possess marijuana as of Thursday, like a dream come true for an aging generation of pot smokers who recall the kick the legendary Thai Stick variety delivered.

The stated intention of the country’s public health minister to distribute 1 million marijuana seedlings, beginning Friday, has added to the impression that Thailand is turning into a weed wonderland

Some Thai advocates celebrated Thursday morning by buying marijuana at a cafe that had previously been limited to selling products made from the parts of the plant that do not get people high. The dozen or so people who turned up at the Highland Cafe were able to choose from a variety of buds with names such as Sugarcane, Bubblegum, Purple Afghani, and UFO.

“I can say it out loud, that I am a cannabis smoker. I don’t need to hide like in the past when it was branded as an illegal drug,” said 24-year-old Rittipong Bachkul, the day’s first customer.

So far, it appears there would be no effort to police what people can grow and smoke at home, aside from registering to do so, and declaring it is for medical purposes.

For the time being, however, would-be marijuana tourists might want to proceed with caution.

Thailand’s government has said it is promoting cannabis for medical use only, warning those eager to light up for fun that smoking in public could still considered to be a nuisance, subject to a potential 3-month sentence and 25,000 Thai baht ($780) fine.

And extracted content, such as oil, remains illegal if it contains more than 0.2% of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical that makes people high.

The status of marijuana is still in considerable legal limbo because while it is no longer treated as a dangerous drug, Thai lawmakers have yet to pass legislation to regulate its trade.

Thailand has become the first nation in Asia to decriminalize marijuana — also known as cannabis, or ganja in the local lingo — but it is not following the examples of Uruguay and Canada, the only two countries so far that have legalized recreational marijuana on a national basis.

Workers tend to cannabis plants at a farm in Chonburi province, eastern Thailand on June 5, 2022. Marijuana cultivation and possession in Thailand was decriminalized as of Thursday, June 9, 2022.
Sakchai Lalit/AP

Thailand mainly wants to make a splash in the market for medical marijuana. It already has a well developed medical tourism industry and its tropical climate is ideal for growing cannabis.

“We should know how to use cannabis,” Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, the country’s biggest marijuana booster, said recently. “If we have the right awareness, cannabis is like gold, something valuable, and should be promoted.”

But he added, “We will have additional Ministry of Health Notifications, by the Department of Health. If it causes nuisances, we can use that law (to stop people from smoking).”

He said the government prefers to “build an awareness” that would be better than patrolling to check on people and using the law to punish them.

Some immediate beneficiaries of the change are people who have been locked up for breaking the old law.

“From our perspective, a major positive outcome of the legal changes is that at least 4,000 people imprisoned for offences relating to cannabis will be released,” Gloria Lai, Asia regional director of the International Drug Policy Consortium, said in an email interview.

“People facing cannabis-related charges will see them dropped, and money and cannabis seized from people charged with cannabis-related offences will be returned to their owners.” Her organization is network of civil society organizations worldwide advocating drug policies “grounded in principles of human rights, health and development.”

However, economic benefits are at the heart of the marijuana reforms, projected to boost everything from national income to small farmers’ livelihoods.

There is concern over whether the benefits will be distributed equitably.

One fear is that giant corporations could be unfairly served by proposed regulations involving complicated licensing processes and expensive fees for commercial use that would handicap small producers.

“We have seen what happened with the alcohol business in Thailand. Only large-scale producers are allowed to monopolize the market,” said Taopiphop Limjittrakorn, a lawmaker from the opposition Move Forward party. “We are worried the similar thing will happen to the cannabis industry if the rules are in favor of big business,” His party wants laws now being drafted to tackle the problem.

Small operators are keen to move into the marijuana sector anyway.

On a hot Sunday afternoon in eastern Thailand’s Sri Racha district, Ittisug Hanjichan, owner of Goldenleaf Hemp, a cannabis farm, led his fifth training course for 40 entrepreneurs, farmers, and retirees. They each paid about $150 to learn tips on nicking seed coats and tending the plants to get quality yields.

One of the attendees was 18-year-old Chanadech Sonboon, who said his parents used to scold him for trying to secretly grow marijuana plants.

He said his father has changed his mind and now sees marijuana as a medication rather than something to be abused. The family runs a small homestay and café and hopes to one day provide cannabis to its guests.

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US President Joe Biden turns 80 Today: New Generation’ of Democratic Leaders Takes Control in Congress

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President Joe Biden will celebrate his 80th birthday on Sunday, marking the first time a sitting president has reached that milestone while in office and fueling speculation about how his advancing age will affect his political future.

Biden — who was the oldest person to assume the presidency in January 2021, just 61 days after his 78th birthday — has said he intends to make another White House bid, even as his age-adjacent peers, including 82-year-old House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have made the decision to step away from leadership in order to make way for a younger generation.

“My intention is that I will run again. But I’m a great respecter of fate and this is ultimately a family decision. I think everybody wants me to run but we’re going to have discussions about it. And I don’t feel any hurry one way or the other to make that judgment.” he said last week, after helming what many say is the most successful midterm election for a sitting president’s party in decades, though noting that those results would not have an impact on his decision to run again.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden greets guests before speaking at an event at the White House complex, Nov. 18, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Biden is the oldest person to serve as commander in chief in the nation’s history. Should he seek reelection in 2024 and win, the president would be 86 by the end of his second term. He has said he’ll talk over his future with his wife and the rest of his family over the holidays.

Biden has said he is hoping that he and his wife “get a little time to actually sneak away for a week around between Christmas and Thanksgiving” and that his decision to run for reelection will likely “be early next year we make that judgment.”

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Shanquella Robinson’s Death in Cabo, Father Believes Attack Was a Set Up

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Shanquella Robinson‘s mysterious death in Mexico smells like a set up to her father … he tells TMZ he believes his daughter was attacked as part of a diabolical plan.

Shanquella, who was from North Carolina, was found dead last month in her room in Los Cabos … where she was vacationing with a group of friends. Her parents say the friends told them the 25-year-old died of alcohol poisoning.

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Drunk woman steals 45ft ferry while shouting ‘I’m Jack Sparrow’

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A drunken woman stole a passenger ferry on the River Dart and shouted 'I'm Jack Sparrow' and 'I'm a pirate' as she drifted away from police on the shore

A DRUNK has been jailed after she stole a 100-seat ferry and smashed into boats, yelling, “I’m Jack Sparrow! I’m a pirate!”

Alison Whelan, 51, boarded the 45ft Dart Princess with a friend after a two-day bender, where she got drunk on Lambrini and ate poisonous deadly nightshade, which causes hallucinations.

She undid the mooring ropes in the early hours and drifted up a river on the tide, bashing into other boats “like a pinball machine”.

Whelan taunted police, shouting: “What are you going to do now?” and “I believe this is out of your jurisdiction!”

Thirty police, a lifeboat crew, Coastguards and paramedics had to be called.

And when the cops finally arrested her after an hour when the ferry came to rest in calm water, she told them: “We’d have ended up in St Tropez if we hadn’t been caught.”

Whelan, of Paignton, Devon, stole the double-decker ferry in nearby Dartmouth a year ago.

She had called an ambulance, claiming to have had a seizure. Medics found her drunk and rambling, and one of them was pushed over by her friend, Tristam Locke.

The medics called police and went to their vehicle to wait, then looked in their mirror and saw the ferry drifting away from shore.

Whelan told police she untied “two or three” of the mooring ropes because she kept tripping over them.

She said she then felt the boat moving and “noticed the hotels getting a long way away”.

The ferry suffered £1500 of damage when it hit two other boats, which were also damaged. Torquay magistrates heard Whelan and Locke could have been killed on rocks if the tide on the River Dart had been going out at the time.

Locke was fined £100 last year for assaulting an ambulance technician.

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