Raid is the second in five weeks on a commercial cannabis factory. Thailand has recently legalised cannabis for medical use but strictly under the control of Thailand’s Ministry for Health. The production and sale of cannabis is still, unequivocally, illegal and the latest person arrested, an American Thai working at a leading Bangkok international school, has been charged as a drug dealer under Thailand’s existing criminal law. The legal prospects for the man look very grim indeed. The quantity of drugs, the elaborate and commercial nature of the operation mean that he could be facing the harshest of punishments.
There have a been a number of high profile drug busts targeting the production of marijuana or cannabis products since the medical use of the drug and other substances as legalised by the Thai government and national legislature at the end of last year. However, this new law does not allow or provide for the uncontrolled use or unfettered sale of the substance. There have also been smaller arrests, where smaller dealers advertising the sale of cannabis products online, have been nabbed by Thai police. The latest raid and arrest of an American Thai teacher, working at a prestigious international school who was running a cannabis factory at a premises on Bangkok’s Ding Daeng road, makes the position very clear. Anyone involved in the production or sale of cannabis or marijuana products on a commercial basis is still subject to law enforcement and the terrible prospect of being prosecuted in Thailand as a drug dealer which comes with severe consequences.
A teacher at a high profile international school in Bangkok has been arrested by Thai police after a cannabis and hashish production factory was found at an abandoned building in the Din Daeng area of Bangkok. This move comes weeks after a huge cannabis oil exporting facility was raided and closed down by police as well as other arrests throughout Thailand at a time when the government has passed a law that makes the production of cannabis for medical use legal. The latest is one of a number of police actions which serve as a warning to any operator who might think there is now an open season on cannabis production in Thailand. Nothing could be further from the truth as Thai police appear to be ramping up operations against commercial dealers in what is still a strictly controlled substance.
Cannabis dealers still targeted by Thai police
The new law specifies clearly that the production and use of cannabis for medical purposes will be conducted under the supervision of the the Thai Ministry of Health. It is to be to a closed system which means that the growth of cannabis or production of cannabis derivatives is still fully illegal and such actions still leaves people throughout Thailand open to police arrest, prosecution and significant jail time. There are reported, however, to be many casual networks in Bangkok and throughout Thailand growing and working with cannabis for supply to users who need the drug for medical reasons.
Cannabis farm located at building near the headquarters of Thailand’s war on drugs
The cannabis dealer arrested in Bangkok is reported to be a 46 year old American Thai man who taught English and was also a swimming teacher at local international school. It is reported that he was preparing cannabis related products and selling them online at a premium price. The building where he had located his elaborate cannabis factory and farm is reported to be very near to Thailand’s Office of Narcotics Control Board, which leads the fight against illegal drugs in Thailand. It is a fight and war that is still raging with reports of a number of smugglers killed by the Thai army in recent days on the Thai Myanmar border. Raids like this, are sending a clear signal to those who think it is open season for ‘Do for it yourself’ cannabis in Thailand. Cannabis and Cannabis production is not yet fully legal in Thailand, not even for medical use. The new law foresees and still provides for strict controls on the substance by the Thai government. Police reports suggest that, in addition to arrangements for producing derivative cannabis products, the enterprising English teacher had also created an indoor cannabis farm within the building.
Second high profile raid on an ambitious cannabis facility since new law was first approved by the Thai cabinet and national Assembly last year
This is the second raid on an elaborate cannabis farming and manufacturing facility in Bangkok within the space of five weeks. In early December, a raid on a even larger cannabis oil exporting operation saw a UK doctor and a Canadian businessman arrested. They had been running a huge multi million dollar cannabis oil export business from two sites in Bangkok. Police had known of the existence of the facility for some time. Although this cannabis production facility is smaller, it is still quite substantial and has been an engaging in a substantial commercial business. It is reported that the business, being run by Bangkok based international school teacher, was marketing a particularly high grade range cannabis products online in a slick marketing effort that highlighted the organic process used in refining the products to the highest grade.
Scene at the cannabis showed evidence of a busy commercial venture operational for three years
The raid conducted on the somewhat derelict building of four floors saw a huge contingent of Thai police and senior officers attend the scene. There was also a heavy media attendance at the raid, which took place on Bangkok’s busy Din Daeng road in the Phayathai area of the city. The building comprised of four floors and inside police found an extensive factory for producing cannabis products. Evidence uncovered at the scene included large tanks, lighting, pots and distillation equipment. Police also found bank books, a computer, coffee maker and range of identity cards, one linked to a prestigious Bangkok international school, identifying the bearer as a swimming teacher. There were also identity cards for the cannabis factory owner’s car and easy pass card for use on Bangkok toll roads. This was a busy business man. Thai police have said they think the operation was in place for up to three years.
Photographers and reporters converged on the arrested teacher as Thai police led him away
As police arrested and removed the American Thai man, he ducked and weaved between officers clearly attempting to conceal his identity by avoiding a clear press photo. The man was wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses and a face mask. As officers guided him to a waiting white van, a media posse of at least twenty reporters and photographers converged. After the suspect had been removed from the scene and the media interest died down, police began removing the evidence using large boxes and an external pulley hoist to remove large and heavy plastic containers containing substances from the factory’s upper floors.
Man to face charges as a drug dealer
Thai police have named the man as Joseph Sodsaikij. He is facing prosecution by authorities for having cannabis in sufficient quantities for dealing in the substance with the intention of selling the drug contrary to Thai law. It could mean the man is facing the harshest possible sentence under the country’s draconian anti drugs regime. In spite of the new legislation, the current law still holds sway. As with the raid on a cannabis oil processing plant at the end of last year, it is also clear that Thai police had been aware of Mr Sodsaikij and his activities for some time. Police General Chalermkiat Sriworakhan, a Thai Deputy Police Chief, told reporters that following questioning by Thai police of criminal drug dealers dealing in marijuana or cannabis last July, they had given up the name of Joseph Sodsaikij.