9 year olds smoke cannabis on Pattaya Beach in Thailand

Netizens are concerned about the safety of children after pictures of a group of 9 and 10 year olds smoking cannabis from a bamboo bong on Pattaya Beach in Chon Buri province, eastern Thailand, went viral on social media.

Thailand delisted cannabis as an illicit narcotic in June to allow the public to utilise the plant’s medicinal properties. But without much prior planning, little to no legislation to regulate marijuana use – or to protect young children from using cannabis – was implemented.

One clear rule is that cannabis cannot be sold or used by anyone under 20 years old. However, when cannabis is so accessible that it can be bought from vans and street vendors, it is no surprise that the group of primary school-age children in the photos managed to get a hold of some.

The man who posted the photos, 35 year old Krittiwat Matrong, said he came across the children when he was on his way to watch a fireworks display in Pattaya. As Krittiwat prepared to board a boat, he saw children sitting on the wall at the beach smoking from a bamboo bong.

At first, Krittiwat thought the children were just playing, but as he approached them he realised the boys were smoking marijuana.

Krittiwat approached the children and asked them their ages to discover they were only 9-10 years old. When Krittiwat asked where their parents were, they told him that they didn’t have any parents.

However, when Krittiwat warned them that they are too young to smoke marijuana, one of the children said, “I’m not scared of you. My dad is a soldier.”

Netizens are concerned about the children’s well-being and many criticised their guardians for allowing them to go to Pattaya Beach unsupervised.

Young children openly smoking marijuana on the beach is damaging to Pattaya’s image, too, added Krittiwat.

Thailand recently made cannabis flowers – the part which contains the most THC – a “controlled herb” and banned all advertising of the plant. But many think it is too little too late – the genie is already out of the bottle.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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