A tropical island paradise just nine hours from Australia is being dubbed the ‘new Amsterdam’ as tourists flock to it following a change in cannabis laws.
Visitors smoking joints on the beach or even indulging in cannabis-infused pizza are now a common sight on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand.
This is in stark contrast to just a few months ago, when people caught in possession of hash – or ‘ganja’ as it is referred to in the area – were in jail.
As of June, cannabis is no longer classified as an illegal drug in Thailand, with tourists now looking to the holiday destination to take their relaxation to the next level.
While cannabis is no longer on the list of banned substances, its recreational use has technically not yet been enacted into law, leaving a legal gray area that Koh Samui cashes in on.
Dubbed the ‘new Amsterdam’, Koh Samui is just nine hours away from Australia as tourists flock to the cannabis-dominated resort town
Tropical Koh Samui is full of people lounging at luxurious beach clubs, cooling off in the pool, drinking alcohol and making the most of their lax cannabis laws
The owner of the luxurious beach club Chi Samui, Carl Lamb, told ABC the decriminalization of cannabis has been a “game changer”.
Technically, while people can be charged with being a nuisance for smoking in public – with a maximum penalty of three months in jail and a $1,000 fine – Mr Lamb says the police have told him they only want to stop it in his club if people start complaining.
A jetsetter staying at the resort said he came from the UK to experience the island paradise and said it is ‘like the new Amsterdam’.
‘We came [to Thailand] when marijuana wasn’t available, a month into our trip you could buy weed everywhere – in the bars, the cafes, on the street. So we smoke it and it’s like, how cool is this? It’s amazing,” said Carlos Oliver.
A beach club in the resort of Chi Samui has a separate five-page menu dedicated to a variety of food, drinks and desserts that contain marijuana (stock image)
‘Ganja’ has taken over the holiday destination with hash-infused food now on the menu on Koh Samui, with many choosing to smoke freshly rolled joints by the pool.
Chi Samui has a separate five-page menu dedicated to a variety of food, drinks and desserts that contain marijuana.
It boasts cocktails, lemonade and tea containing the substance, as well as appetizers such as Hemppus – hummus infused with a green curry hemp sauce and CBD oil.
The main course includes meals such as pasta, pizza, burgers and Thai food, all laced with ‘ganja’.
The meal options also have deliciously creative names like, ‘canna get much better brownie’, ‘pimp my pasta’, ‘weedy good lamb’ and ‘chilli con canna’.
The menu includes meals such as pasta, pizza, burgers and Thai food, all laced with ‘ganja’, as well as a range of drinks containing cannabis
Thailand is the first country in Asia to legalize the growth and trade of marijuana.
The change ended decades of prohibition, as people are now once again allowed to grow the plant at home for their own consumption.
However, the cannabis extracts that contain more than 0.2 percent by weight of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the main psychoactive compound found in marijuana, remain illegal.
However, Professor Sarana Sommano of Chiang Mai University’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences said there was still a risk of being charged for lighting up in public.
“There are still risks. The problem is that cannabis is no longer considered a narcotic, but there are no ministerial rules and regulations for its use, she said.
When the law took effect in June, 4,000 inmates serving time across Thailand for hashish, marijuana and hemp-related drug offenses were all released.
Gloria Lai, Asia Regional Director for the International Drug Policy Consortium, said: ‘People facing cannabis-related charges will see them dropped, and money and cannabis seized from people charged with cannabis-related offenses will be returned to their owners.’