The Golden Triangle is known as the center for illegal drug trade in Southeast Asia. Although this region situated where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet became famous for Opium production, they are no strangers to cannabis. In fact, the monks in Thailand use cannabis for spiritual purposes and still practice to do so till this day. MASA members first traveled to Bangkok to learn about the cannabis industry back in 2015 when the plant was still illegal but gaining interest after the release of the CNN documentary titled “Weed” hosted by Dr Sanjay Gupta. Highland is the counterparts of MASA in Thailand which started advocating for cannabis in Bangkok since 2014. Highland invited MASA to join their first ever annual “420 Event” which was held at Dhurakij Pundit University (DPU) in the month of April. Upon arrival to DPU, we were astonished by the crowd who attended the forum.
There were a total of 100 policemen, army officers, doctors, politicians, students and local people who filled up the hall room. The day began with a brief introduction by the host followed with a speech by the Bangkok member of parliament. He explained that cannabis is a well known plant which was commonly used in Thailand as traditional medicine and should make a comeback as it proves to be useful for numerous critical health problems. Also present on stage was the Dean of Medical Faculty, DPU and an expert on drug addiction treatment using cannabis. They agreed that cannabis is a soft drug and pose no harm to the mind and body. Mistaken for being a “gateway” drug it is actually and “exit” drug. Hundreds of people in Bangkok have succeeded to leave their harmful lifestyle and addiction to opioid drugs like heroin and morphine within days after using cannabis. The plant help drug addicts to cope with withdrawal symptoms, boost their appetite and act as a healthy substitute for the to “feel good”. This amazing effect from Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is sort after by cannabis enthusiasts across the globe, however its therapeutic properties are far greater. It is when we realize that this plant is not a “party drug” neither is it the same as all the other drugs listed in the Dangerous Drug Act, that we will understand why millions of people around the world are consuming it on a daily basis. Amazing proof of recovery by patients facing death from terminal illnesses like Dravet’s syndrome and cancer surfaced when parents and patients conjured the spirit to speak in public after witnessing the miracle themselves. At the end of the event, Harish was approached by a woman named Mrs. Khun who cried for help asking for Cannabidiol (CBD) extracts from the cannabis plant that saved the life of Charlotte Figi in the United States as reported by Dr Sanjay Gupta on CNN. Mrs. Khun’s daughter also has Dravet’s syndrome and suffers with around 300 seizures a week.
Eventually she was able to purchase the exact CBD extracts used by Charlotte Figi and began treating her daughter with it. Almost immediately, her daughter dropped from having 300 seizures a week to one a month! She continued to treat her daughter and cried tears of joy when she witnessed her daughter walking and speaking again. By 2016, she has shared the CBD medication with at least five of her friends who has children with the same condition. All of them reported that their children had almost no seizures ever since they started using the CBD extracts. This gained the interest of news channels and politicians who shared Mrs. Khun’s nationwide. Mr. Marc Emery a.k.a. The Prince of Pot was also present at the 420 Event in 2016 but was denied permission to speak on stage by the police. He had just returned from Slovenia a few weeks before and was hoping to share to the doctors available regarding cannabis suppositories which is highly effective for cancer treatment. Although he missed his spot on stage, he was able to meet the doctors behind stage and speak to them. Among the doctors was Dr Somyot Kittimunkong who wrote the book “Cannabis and Cancer” which is available in the Thai language. Dr Somyot has met and documented the progress of over a hundred different cancer patients from various backgrounds and condition using cannabis as medicine. What he found was that cannabis is a great palliative medicine and in some cases was able to reduce tumor size and get rid of them completely. With so much evidence available for cannabis, Thailand citizens are not afraid of the plant but law enforcers who has the authority to arrest and detain those who use or has the plant in possession.
From 2016 to 2019, Highland continued to host their famous annual “420 Event” which became the top destination for international cannabis organizations and individuals interested with the Asian market, knowledge and strains. With their strong network, Highland began organizing other events related to cannabis in Bangkok and even opened their very own cafe. They also created a documentary which is available on Netflix titled “Highland” that shares about the history of cannabis in Thailand and the struggles faced by locals who use the plant. In 2019, when Thailand legalized the medicinal use of cannabis extracts, Highland was selected to assist the government with the education, research and development of cannabis plants. As promised by the health minister, each household will be allowed to grow up to six plants for their personal use and to sell. This is still under discussion and may be realized sooner than we think. As Highland continue to push for education and research on cannabis, more opportunities and discoveries begin to unfold from this multipurpose miracle plant. Thailand may very well be ahead in cannabis clinical research studies in Asia alongside South Korea. There are two important divisions which Thailand is focusing on now that is formulation and cultivation of the cannabis plants. Most of all cannabis plants are grown in universities and hospitals so that it can be closely guarded, studied, processed and administered to patients when they need it.
As of June 2020, there are around 20 authorized cannabis clinics and hospitals registered across Thailand. Demand for cannabis medication is on the rise and the Thailand government is planning to increase its production rate to have enough supply for their citizens. Malaysia being an agriculture focused country has the potential of becoming the largest producers in Asia with the strategic exporting location on the map. MASA continues to push for cannabis research, development and education that begins now so that Malaysians are prepared for the global revolution and understand the truth of the plant as Thailand