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I am a great believer that the true wealth of a person or community lies in education, experience, and knowledge and not in actual material wealth. Possessions, land, money, and things come and go. Things may be earned, gifted and inherited—but they can also be snatched away in the blink of an eye. History is littered with examples of people and communities who instantly go from rich to poor through government decision and acts of violence. Indeed, the common unkind thread of humanity’s history is the temporary fleeting nature of wealth and life. But knowledge is different. Knowledge is intangible—shareable—replicable—compoundable—and outlasts its source. What an individual learns from family, community, school, experienceand life can be replicated, transferred and shared without limit.The source of a thought, a life, may be taken—but as long as that thought has been shared it lives on in perpetuity, existing foras long as it is shared. 

For the last two years our Thai cannabis community has built two types of wealth. On the one hand billions of Bhat from home and abroad have been invested into thousands of farmsand businesses throughout the kingdom. Folks have put their entire tangible livelihood into the business of growing cannabis based off the assurances of policy and the de-criminalization of the plant and the lucrative potential which the world is waking up to as the stigma fades away. On the other hand, the knowledge and appreciation of cannabis cultivation, and theaccompanying network of associates, colleagues, friends and allies, has emerged developing communal education and understanding over millions of growers, scientists, academics, artists, chefs, consumers who have been meeting, sharing ideas and establishing strong far reaching roots throughout our Thai and international cannabis communities. As we reach the second anniversary of legalization the wealth of our community, through tangible assets, farms, businesses and flowers as well as the large, diverse, deep and profoundly knowledgeable community has grown exponentially. 

Credits: Phuket Cannabis Association

And yet, a couple voices in power are now trying their best to dismantle everything, take the erroneous step backward relist the flower as a narcotic and re-criminalize. The same people who are pushing casinos, vintage rice, and boozing to the wee hours of the morning, are claiming—with an absence of hard facts and statistics—that they are worried about the health effects of cannabis. The same people who are looking to encourage health tourism with “traditional Thai traditional medicine” and supposedly dedicated to promoting Thai “soft power” are shunning and threatening an indigenous, world beloved and celebrated Thai plant. The explanations of why they want to take a step back and reverse all which has been built over the last two years are confusing, lacking in logic and science and seemingly counter to the appetite for development, at times unhealthy and risky development, that these same folks claim. If they are successful the immediate effect will be clear: the destruction of the tangible wealth of the Thai cannabis community. I leave it to legal scholars to economists to explain the damage a reversal of governmental policy would have on the business community as a whole and on the reputation of Thailand as a destination for foreign direct investment.

But what of the intangible wealth of our Thai cannabis community? Do not get me wrong. The elimination of businesses, after thousands of licenses have been issued, after a million three hundred thousand households registered to grow cannabis, after billions of Bhat have been invested into the market, is irresponsible and at best grossly negligent. But all things come and go. What of the networks which have been built? What of the relationships which have fostered the exchange and development of knowledge? What of the incredible increase of quality in Thai cannabis after just two short years? What of the sophisticated human infrastructure which powers the community and lets both knowledge and commerce flow? Our community has been out in the open for two years, and in that span of time the layers of relationshipshave resulted in an in depth appreciation of the different aspects of the community, in the intricacies of growing, treating those afflicted with maladies, in inspiring art, food, literature, technology, the list goes on and on. Our knowledge is not restricted to individuals—or even to small, localizedcommunities.  Our knowledge spans throughout the Kingdom, is redundant, sophisticated, continues to build and has worldwideappreciation and participation. Our things may be outlawed, but our collective knowledge can not be taken away.

Credits: Phuket Cannabis Association

The Thai cannabis community, like cannabis itself, is not troublesome or dangerous. Our community builds, creates, learns, educates, heals and continuously grows. It is positive and has contributed greatly to society in the last two years. Why anyone would want to attack its wealth is a matter for political pundits and soap opera writers. But it is a move which is both destructive and illogical—it is a move which is not sustainable built on a base of half baked ideas, dubious data, and unclear motives. A step backward threatens the livelihood of many good and productive people who relied on a legal licensing process to proceed with their businesses. While their businesses may disappear because of re-listing and re-criminalization, these folks and their knowledge and network will not disappear. Our wealth of knowledge, our wealth of relationships and networks will live on despite any act of government. It is intangible and cannot be taken away. Policy is temporary, knowledge is permanent. The community, just like its beloved plant, will find a way to continue growing. No matter what happens in the next weeks and months—keep your network—build your knowledge—strengthen your relationships—do not abandon the infrastructure. We may have been strangers prior to June 9, 2022—but we are all tied together now. Do not forget that your true wealth is greater than what you have in your bank account—it also includes who and what you know, and most importantly what you have learned and shared.

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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