Old time smokers of pot may wax poetic about the good old days of abundant “Thai Sticks” that were popular right after the Vietnam War. Thai Sticks are a high potency joint that is seedless, mostly bud, and wrapped in the leaves and cannabis stalk of the plant that can be smoked entirely. Known for their high quality when weed was mediocre, they were the choice among discerning heads.
But in the country of their namesake, Thailand, marijuana is considered a class A drug akin to heroin. Not only is pot illegal to partake in, but drug trafficking to get the Thai Sticks here can land you in the clink for life.
The series “Highland,” produced by Coconuts TV and available via Netflix, explores different facets of the complicated cannabis culture in Thailand.
The debut season explores marijuana’s origins, medicinal applications, and recreational use, which vary throughout the country.
The initial three episodes follow Sebastian Perry as he travels through the regions of Thailand and Laos to examine the fabric of a society coming to terms with its past, present and changing views on pot.
Very factual, the viewer will get a wealth of information. Each episode is about 20 minutes, enough time to get to the point and move on.
The policy details are complicated and at odds with a culture that holds the effects of marijuana in high regard for centuries. A growing group of Thai citizens are fighting to update pot’s legal status there, with much of the policy dating back to America’s role in the Vietnam War.
The proponents push the many medical benefits of marijuana regarding cancer and other health issues. The government is slow to accept proven research, but since 2016 has passed laws to allow “secret” hemp farming for medicinal purposes — a kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangement between the people and the powers that be.
It’s a big leap forward from the time of certain tribes that could grow hemp for religious ceremonies only. Unfortunately, marijuana is more medically beneficial than legally grown hemp. At least in Thailand, they don’t have big pharma trying to discredit the research or sway the scales of justice.
Watching “Highland” could come in handy for the tourist who tokes, or at least hold a mirror up to the many hypocritical policies in the U.S.
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