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We would be liars if we told you we did not get caught up in the historical election and results of last weekend. Over 75% of eligible voters turned out and with a loud and clear voice expressed their desires. We watched, and still watch, excited and humbled by the public’s participation in their civic duties. Excited, by the huge step taken towards achieving Thailand incredible potential. Humbled, by the high voter turnout and by the fact that the Thai people stood up for themselves, followed their heads and hearts rather than the politics and messages of fear, intimidation, and patronage. HighThailand expresses our deep and sincere congratulations to our Thai readers and anyone who cares about Thailand.

The notorious notebook is ready for the next chapter

We note that the parties forming the presumed next coalition have taken stances against the existing cannabis status quo and market. Our hope is that logic and sensible minds will prevail. That cannabis will be regulated by the new government. Regulated in a manner which protects society—particularly minors—while concurrently developing a sustainable, vibrant, and dynamic local cannabis market and culture. The next government will immediately have more important issues to tackle than cannabis—but we hope that when it addresses cannabis the new coalition follows their principles, ideals, and logic, not their knee jerk reactions and statements made campaigning.

We are heartened by the fact that Pita Limjaroenrat, our presumed next Prime Minister, and his Move Forward party have taken a sensible position against monopolies in Thailand, particularly beer monopolies. With regards to beer, the existing oligopoly has kept the same beer available for decades while stifling innovation, limiting quality, controlling prices, and robbing both consumers and potential brewers of native Thai culinary genius. This statement is not made lightly and is not hyperbole. Thailand is second to none when it comes to quality of food, flavor, and creativity. Because of Thai culinary innovation, Thai food is loved throughout the world and a legitimate argument can be made that it is amongst the best (if not the best) in the world.  Laws and practices stifling competition amongst brewers is a sad step limiting Thailand’s natural culinary advantages. Why limit the inherent talent, innovation, and growth of a nation?

A table full of Thai delicacies

A table full of Thai delicacies

The same logic must be applied to cannabis—any future regulation of cannabis must shy away from granting monopoly powers to any distributer. From the day that cannabis was legalized certain distributors have advocated limiting distribution of cannabis throughout the Kingdom to a small number of distributors (namely the distributors advocating for such limitation). Those distributors greedily dream of the control and wealth which accompanies such monopolistic powers. Their argument is that market control is necessary for the health of the cannabis industry, that competition will result in numerous growers and ancillary businesses driving the price down to an unsustainable point. Those arguments are cynical, erroneous, and contrary to established market economics.

Over the last year of legalization, Thai growers have stepped up their game and have introduced a plethora of high quality cannabis into the market, have developed their own strains of cannabis, and have thrived culturally looking inward rather than adopting a perceived dominant foreign cannabis culture. None of this would happen in an environment where one or a handful of families/individuals controls the cannabis market. If there is an argument to be made about cheap cannabis flooding the market, that argument should be made against the low grade imports illegally dumped in Thailand (sometimes smuggled by the same folks advocating monopolistic positions). But we proudly see that the Thai consumer is learning to discern and appreciate superior locally grown cannabis and shunning those imports.

People strolling over the HighTable farmers market and checking out local produce.

On a daily basis I try, review and rate locally grown cannabis and publish my thoughts within the pages of HighThailand. My system is imperfect and subjective—faulty, but hopefully improving. I have learned so much more about cannabis in the year I have been reviewing than I ever knew before. The rating system and reactions I had at the onset of legalization are far different from how I review today and will continue to change and develop with the market. This is in part because of what I have learned through experiencing the evolution of quality, but more so it is from my many teachers: the incredible Thai growers. Exposure to master growers, up and coming growers, and those just starting out have introduced a new world to me in just one year. The outside world is less and less important as a measuring stick for Thai cannabis. What is happening here is so much more interesting, so much more pertinent, and so much more enjoyable. Cannabis is an art—ever developing—ever changing—reflective of its growers. Thai cannabis is dynamic—it is native to the region and at the same time is being developed to new levels limited only by the imagination of its growers. A monopolistic system would rob us of that innovation, of that art, of that imagination, of that bud. We would come home to the same old buds every day. Predictable—stable—never changing—acceptable but void of imagination. This is the dream of “cannabis entrepreneurs” who have no love or understanding of cannabis. Who have no love for development of the plant, the culture, the art. These are people who dream of money earned at the expense of a community’s and nation’s development. It is a stifling and greedy dream.

The Thai cannabis community came together at the 1. Phuket Cannabis Cup

We acknowledge that this article is premature. The new coalition still has challenges to overcome before it takes power. We respect the hard work ahead of them and wish them luck. Progress for Thailand is paramount and more important than a focus on cannabis. But at a certain time, cannabis will come back into focus. At that time, we implore the new coalition to follow the same logic it follows for other matters. Come explore the many workshops, fairs, events, and competitions held by our cannabis community. See for yourself the care, skill, professionalism, and art which goes into each harvest from our top growers. Understand how the community honors Thailand’s past connection to cannabis while at the same time taking it forward to new heights. We understand that regulations must be put in place to protect the most vulnerable in society—understand that our community is also vulnerable to smugglers, monopolists and to a rotten and undeserved stigma. Bring our community in—we will be the first ones to introduce and recommend sensible cannabis regulations. Remember your principles and be wary of wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing. Ours is a community—no single individual represents that community—our strength moving forward is in the aggregate of our members. We can do much for Thailand—let us in—keep importers and monopolists out.

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Mendel Menachem

Mendel Menachem is a curious and well-known cannabis commentator in Thailand, with a particular focus on locally grown flowers and their growers. His unwavering support for the local industry has earned him widespread respect within the Thai cannabis community. Mendel also regularly reviews cannabis from throughout the country, which he expertly reviews thanks to his renowned palate. Follow him on Instagram