An incident occurred on the vibrant streets of Phuket, involving a brash American tourist who created a cloud of cannabis smoke using his unconventional ‘weed blower’ device. The tourist, identified as Angkhan Vorac Chhieng, was captured on CCTV dousing fellow revelers with intoxicating marijuana vapor along the bustling Bangla Road on August 18. The incident quickly gained attention online, prompting an investigation by the Phuket Provincial Police.
Police Colonel Sujin Nilabadee of the Patong Police Station confirmed that the authorities swiftly gathered evidence from the CCTV footage, leading them to apprehend the American national. Angkhan was then compelled to issue a public apology, expressing remorse for his actions. In a video statement, a contrite Angkhan addressed Phuket, saying, “It was a misunderstanding. I love Thailand. No problem. Thank you. Sorry. Very sorry.”
Upon questioning, Angkhan explained that he had used the cannabis blower to create promotional videos for his marijuana business. However, he deeply regretted the negative impact it had on Phuket’s reputation as a popular tourist destination. Following his apology, Angkhan departed Thailand on Vietjet Flight VZ310 on August 19, facing both embarrassment and disgrace.
The Phuket Provincial Police issued a statement suggesting that they might blacklist Angkhan, notifying the relevant authorities to take appropriate measures within their jurisdictions. Consequently, Patong police, local authorities, public health officers, and volunteers conducted inspections of cannabis vendors along Bangla Road on August 20. Their primary objective was to verify the possession of valid licenses and sales permits, ensuring that the decriminalized substance was not accessible to minors, pregnant women, or individuals under the age of 20. Fortunately, no violations were found during the inspections.
It is worth mentioning that Thailand legalized cannabis in June 2022, no longer considering it a banned narcotic. This change in legislation resulted in the emergence of numerous neon-lit shops across the country offering the drug. However, Thai authorities are now facing the urgent task of implementing regulations to control its use, as reports indicate a concerning rise in marijuana addiction cases. According to the Ministry of Public Health, an average of 72 monthly cases of marijuana addiction were recorded in the first half of 2022. Shockingly, this number nearly quadrupled to 282 cases per month from June to November 2022 alone.
The incident involving the American tourist serves as a reminder that responsible consumption and respectful behavior should prevail in the post-legalization era. While cannabis enthusiasts celebrate the newfound freedom surrounding the plant, instances like these jeopardize the reputation of both cannabis users and the destination itself. It is crucial for individuals to exercise proper discretion and consideration, ensuring that they do not infringe upon the rights and experiences of others. By adhering to these principles, we can foster a positive and harmonious coexistence between cannabis culture and society at large.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of High Thailand or its team members.