It’s easier to find a store than Starbucks… Bangkok, Thailand: “The Dangerous Frontline of the Marijuana Bubble” – A Fearful Local Reportage | FRIDAY DIGITAL

It’s easier to find a store than Starbucks… Bangkok, Thailand: “The Dangerous Frontline of the Marijuana Bubble” – A Fearful Local Reportage

The green rush, where you can easily buy marijuana for as little as 1,200 yen per gram in the downtown area, is expanding, and Japanese tourists are also showing up. ......

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A man smokes marijuana on a paper roll in downtown Bangkok. Marijuana is distributed almost like cigarettes.

Marijuana addicts welcome!

When I visited Bangkok, the capital of Thailand for a report, I noticed a sentence on a job flier pasted in front of a marijuana store. The flier also stated in English, “80,000 yen per month” and “20 years old or older. One of the most eye-catching items on the flyer was the requirement that applicants “Must speak good English. Why is a high level of English proficiency required of marijuana store clerks?

When we asked a Thai woman in her 30s who works at the store, she answered, “Most of the customers who buy marijuana are Thai.

Most of the customers who buy marijuana are foreigners.

Marijuana was removed from the list of banned drugs in Thailand last June. At the time, it was the first Asian country to lift its ban on marijuana, and it was a big story. However, the ban was only lifted for medical marijuana and home cultivation under certain conditions, and smoking and smoking marijuana is still illegal in Thailand. However, due to inadequate legislation, marijuana is being sold on the streets as a luxury item, creating the appearance of a “marijuana bubble. The local people call it the “Green Rush,” in reference to the U.S. Gold Rush.

The decision to lift the ban on marijuana was largely influenced by domestic politics. They are aiming to attract inbound customers from abroad. In fact, most of the customers buying marijuana are foreigners, including Japanese. One major marijuana store has rapidly expanded its business in recent years through a franchise system and now has more than 15 stores in Japan.

Ostensibly, they sell marijuana for medical use or for relaxation, but most of the stores have signs in English, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, and the reality is that they sell marijuana for pleasure to tourists and foreign junkies who smoke dried marijuana just for fun,” said a Bangkok expat.

In fact, walking the streets of Bangkok, it was easier to find a marijuana store than it was to find a Starbucks. Most of the clean, brightly lit stores are legal, but the stalls in front of the train station and in the entertainment district are all unlicensed and illegal.

Prices and varieties vary widely, with most legal stores selling marijuana for between 2,700 yen and 3,200 yen per gram.

This was the opinion of a Thai man in his 40s whom we met during our interview. When we visited a stall in an alley behind the station, a shopkeeper offered us 1,200 yen per gram, but when we told him the price was too high, he immediately lowered his offer to half the price. The lowest price I saw was 320 yen per gram in the suburbs.

In Thailand, awareness of illegal drugs has always been low, so much so that many marijuana plants were planted in the garden of the National Assembly building. In Thailand, pills containing methamphetamine ingredients are widespread, and recently a drink called Happy Water mixed with illegal drugs has become popular. It is not uncommon for foreign tourists to become junkies after getting their hands on marijuana out of curiosity.

In Thailand, the number of marijuana addicts is said to have increased about fivefold in the past year. As Japan is considering amending its marijuana control law, it remains to be seen whether Thailand’s perilous situation will serve as a lesson to others.

Inside a specialty store, various brands of marijuana are lined up in bottles. This store was also visited by many foreigners.
Marijuana stores are also opening on Khao San Road, which is known as a mecca for backpackers.
A man inhales marijuana with an experienced hand. He was inhaling the smoke from heated marijuana through a pipe.
A store with the sign “Marijuana Legal Shop” written in Japanese. Many Japanese people visit Bangkok for the purpose of buying marijuana.

From the September 1, 2023 issue of “FRIDAY

  • Reporting and writing Hironori Jinno (Nonfiction writer) PHOTO Soichiro Koriyama

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