Ours is a world of instant reaction. As soon as the election was over our screens were covered in thousands of different scenarios explaining how the government will take shape and what this means for cannabis. A week later, the new coalition put forward a MOU citing regulation of cannabis as their 17th goal. Designate Prime Minister Pita quickly explained in Thai and in English that existing licenses will be honored and those following the rules have nothing to worry about, specifically citing that illegal imports will not be tolerated. He continued that the benefits of cannabis outweigh any detriment and that cannabis is here to stay. Reaction was again instant, varying from panic that cannabis would fall back to the dark old days of violent prohibition to hope that Pita’s sensibilities will prevail and translate into a just and sensible cannabis policy.
We at HighThailand are cautiously optimistic and we want to take Pita at his word. But the reality is we do not know what will happen. So many things must fall in place before the new government assumes power, so many variables exist. We are wary of anyone making extreme predictions—and we share the shaky stomach-churning feeling that accompanies uncertainty. But uncertainty, that worried feeling of not knowing where your next step may land, is a dangerous trap. It opens us to fear. It opens us to the whispers in dark corners we normally avoid. It opens us to baseless conspiracies. It creates monsters and villains in the shadows from the worst parts of our imagination. It threatens to take us down a path of kneejerk reactionism, a path which threatens to undermine our credibility, our sensibilities, and our community. Indeed, we have seen this path followed countless times from cannabis’s detractors who live in the world of dark fantasy and fake facebook posts.
How do we shake uncertainty? It goes against human nature to sit around and wait for the process to move forward, for the government to be cobbled together, and for a cannabis bill to be drafted and passed. Complacency is not the antidote to uncertainty. We are not advocating silence. Instead, we should invest our collective energy into the most positive elements of our community while holding a mirror up to the rest of society. It is acceptable for the community to hold Pita to his words, to remind him of his sensible nature and the logic of his other policies. But we should avoid angry confrontation. We should avoid fights against shadows and ghosts of the “what ifs” in our imagination. Our community shares common values, logic, and reasoning. If we can enforce these ideals—if we can find an ally in Pita and other sensible folks, we will do better moving forward as a vocal stakeholder rather than constantly fighting up hill on the defensive.
There are two important and concurrent paths forward. Our vocal Thai leaders should continue advocating for the community, they should engage directly with stakeholders, and they should communicate the shared values and goals of our community to society and the new coalition. For the rest of us, those of us who are not inclined to be vocal and engage publicly, our job is to live our community’s best life. We need to show that our community is functioning in a way which brings us and our surrounding society to our full potential. Engage in your cannabis community in a sustainable and responsible manner and shun those elements which are harmful.
It is for this specific reason that HighThailand is supporting, and I will be judging, the first tournament of the Thailand Ganja Cup for Outdoor Organic Grow. This year long competition was created to develop standards for Thai outdoor grown cannabis and highlight the more traditional methods of growing cannabis. We have always understood that the purpose for legalizing cannabis was to protect traditional methods of cannabis utilization, to develop the Thai economy, and create a healthy environment for the use of cannabis in Thailand. It is within cups like these, competitions, events and workshops throughout Thailand, that ideas are exchanged, people come together, and we are able to grow and address the positive reasons cannabis must stay legal. These engagements are how we live our community’s best life.
One point of inspiration for our community’s development is Canis Major. Last week I was honored to visit Canis’s farm days before he harvested his flowers. It was an amazing and surreal experience with amongst the most beautiful, fragrant, high-quality crop I have come in contact with. Indeed, I have since relived that visit in my daydreams on an hourly basis. Canis’s flowers, fully Thai, fully locally grown, are the result of his own meticulous process and unrelenting personality. They are also the products of his involvement in the Ganjana Cup (not to be confused with the Ganja Outdoor Cup) and greater cannabis community—in his case a community he helped build from the beginning, supporting, and engaging with other likeminded growers. His engagement has not only made his buds better—but he has inspired a new generation of Thai growers. Canis, all his counterparts who came up with him, and the new generation who have been inspired by him, are Thai success stories must be highlighted. Canis is innovative and his buds amongst the best in Thailand—but his contributions go past his buds—he has inspired innovative minds and countless growers who in turn grow some of the best cannabis around. This is a point of pride for our community, it should be a point of pride for Thailand. Cannabis is a point of development—a point of culture—a point of art—a point of science and medicine—a point of collaboration and positivity—our community is deep in the thick of it and everyone, especially the new coalition, must be made aware of this. These are the principles and elements of a forward moving nation. This is a story which matches Pita’s logic, his goals, and ideals.
The same success which Canis has achieved is what the community supporting the Ganja Cup is aiming to achieve for outdoor grow. Outdoor grow, especially with landraces and strains traditionally grown in the region, must be protected. They are part of Thailand’s history and heritage. They also may be part of a future move towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly cannabis industry. Something all of Thailand’s (and the world’s) industries has to consider.
The year long Ganja Cup will have a tournament every month with 10-12 completely anonymous samples judged and discussed by a jury of ten. Like many of our local competitions, events and workshops, the Ganja Cup is finding its feet as we go along, but is coming along strongly. The initial jury is made up of known personalities from within Thailand’s cannabis community all passionately dedicated to developing it. While we all share the same dedication our experiences and journeys to cannabis are diverse and color our experiences—our conversations have been lively, passionate, and we have challenged each other. These challenges have created a constructive forum for the development of dialogue and to mold and change ideas. My own personal preference is for modified genetics rather than landraces—but this experience has introduced a new level of understanding and appreciation for landraces (and traditional curing methods). The judging criteria are not scientific and exact, but high level and broad to catch a mix of perceptions, feelings, and experiences. The scoring method of the cup is calibrated to allow the judges to show a subjective preference for flowers while at the same time provide objective criteria which ignore personal preference. Each member’s judging methods and philosophy is shared, and discussed in an animated forum. This dialogue leads to both an understanding of a common goal and respect for the diversity of tastes of the community. This goal is not to showcase the personal preference for taste, but to create a general identity and classification for the health and state of Thai outdoor grown flower. We are not actually looking to crown a single winner—but instead understand where we can improve, learn, support each other, and ultimately create standards of quality, safety, and sustainability.
We have a long way to go to achieve these goals—but we are just at the beginning and we are encouraged by what Canis and many of the other superb growers have already achieved through community. We are encouraged by our ability to grow through animated dialogue. This is a journey we all must live and highlight to develop cannabis and to showcase we fit the forward looking principles which Pita espouses. Anyone who loves Thai cannabis and the community must engage with the community and with growers. We must shun those, like importers, who would harm us and weaken our case. Engage in the dialogue, debate with your sisters and brothers in the community, discuss and argue constructively. We do not need to resolve every argument—but we can learn and grow from each discussion. Cannabis culture goes deep—the more you dig, the more you learn and the more you appreciate, the more we can show society. Live our community’s best life, show that we are green, we are sustainable, we dwell on the history and traditions of Thai cannabis, we look to the future for what is best for our community and for society. We are a crucial element of Thailand’s bright future. There is nothing negative at our core—nothing to object to. When we engage and build, we show that we are what Pita says he wants for Thailand—we cast a light on who we really are and we dispel the dark whispers of our detractors. We can achieve more building and developing than we can jumping into a kneejerk defensive stance. We cannot be ignored if we unite in constructive dialogue, through building, through living those shared principles that have been so eloquently put forth by Pita.