The first Phuket Cannabis Cup was evidence of the talent, creativity, and integrity of some of the best members of our community and the achievements possible when fueled by a passion for cannabis. The Phuket Cannabis Association, under the direction of Khun Poonwarit Wangpatravanich, spent months preparing a Cup which showcased a bright future for sustainability and responsibility in the Thai cannabis community. The Association’s Cup highlighted the standards for properly growing and safely appreciating cannabis; presented educational speakers who advocated tailoring international best cannabis practices for Thailand; and created a forum and environment for over a thousand participants and attendees to communicate, learn, grow, and enjoy our unique culture.
I was honored to be a judge, though I must admit judging the Phuket Cannabis Cup was not easy. Judges had approximately two weeks to review 50 strains. We judged the taste, flavor, and effects of the buds in the couple weeks prior to the cup, and focused on aesthetics, trichomes, terpene profiles, genetics, and THC content the day of the cup. I was thrilled to be able to identify familiar strains from taste, smell, and appearance. Our growers have come to a point of producing uniquely identifiable strains—this is phenomenal. The process was exhausting, but I loved it. As I write this here in Bangkok with the benefit of hindsight I would choose to participate again in a heartbeat.
The event’s participants all shared the common desire to see cannabis and its culture thrive in Thailand in a responsible and sustainable manner. I was lucky enough to sit next to Monica Garcia, a fellow judge and third generation cannabis cultivator from California. Monica was raised by legacy growers and grew up when cannabis culture was developing in California, she sees many parallels in Thailand. Monica’s family valued tying the cannabis culture to people—rather than quick profits and corporations. While the corporations did initially make a splash the focus in California has now returned to individual passionate growers. Monica moved to Thailand to be part of a sustainable and developing cannabis culture. She is currently focused on developing Thai environment appropriate genetics and adjusting practices specifically for Thailand. A similar message was delivered in a presentation by fellow Californian Bill Graham, an expert in the use of tissue culture and cannabis cultivation, on the unique use and advantage of tissue culture use in Thailand. Listening to Monica and Bill was eye opening and inspirational—the potential of our community is even greater than I had initially imagined. Our community already is and will further benefit from people who love Thailand and cannabis, people who are sharing best practices and knowledge on the what has worked and failed in other markets.
Credit for the talent the Cup attracted rests with Khun Poonwarit and the Phuket Cannabis Association. They not only organized Monica and Bill’s participation, but also historically important personalities like Khun Rattapon “Guide” Sanrak and Khun Aram “Uncle Dam” Limsakul. Individuals who have contributed greatly to the re-establishment and development of our existing cannabis culture in Thailand. Khun Guide and Uncle Dam understand our community and environment better than anyone. In many ways they represent the aims of this first Phuket Cannabis Cup: sustainability, standards for quality and safety, and the continued growth of our culture. Indeed, each participant, every event and detail, and the criteria used to judge Cup related back to the Cup’s aims. The Phuket Cannabis Association’s focus is commendable.
So where do we go from here? My last column stressed that our cannabis community needs organization and leadership to counter the challenges facing our community. I believe that such organization and leadership was evidenced at the Phuket Cannabis Cup. Previously HighThailand has commended HighTable in Bangkok and High Thai in Chiang Mai for their community focus and dedication to sustainable cannabis culture. We at HighThailand now propose that the three organizations meet in person to discuss their common goals: standards for growing and consuming cannabis safely, proper adaptation of international best cannabis practices to Thailand, and the protection of an open and sustainable cannabis Thai culture and environment. We strongly believe that K Poonwarit is a leader with the passion, vision, and integrity who can represent our community—he would do well to be supported and guided by the heart and soul which is so well represented by High Table and Thai High. Lastly, we recommend that an initial meeting of the abovementioned organizations be held at HighLand Café where the group can benefit from Khun Guide’s immense experience and knowledge. We at HighThailand always stand ready to support our community, and we hope we can support such a historic meeting. A meeting which would show the world that Thailand’s cannabis community has the means and the will to self-regulate in the interest of all society. This could be the beginning of something beautiful for all of us.