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Phuket Books: Madness in Miami

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: After a career of nearly 20 years as a demented humor columnist for the Miami Herald, Dave Barry has turned to writing comic novels. Insane City (CP Putnam’s Sons, New York, 2013, 341pp) is his third. He dedicates it to “the people of this truly insane city of Miami, for making this book easy. Without you, this book wouldn’t exist; any errors in it are strictly your fault.”

Seth Weinstein is a schlub with a dead-end job who has lucked into a marriage engagement with the beautiful and idealistic Tina Clark. Her fabulously wealthy parents “viewed Seth as unworthy to house-sit their pets, let alone marry their daughter”. Why does she love him?

“You make me laugh.”

“So does Danny DeVito.”

“Yes, but he’s taken.”

Tina and her mother have been preparing for a year for her perfect wedding in Miami. Flying down from Washington two days before are the Groom Posse – Seth and his three loser friends. No sooner are they out of the Miami Airport they are chugging margarita pitchers at an outdoor bar presided over by DJ Boonga Wooga and his coffin-sized speakers. They are joined by Cyndi Gonzalez “who had finished fourth in the ‘Miss Hot Amateur Bod competition’ and who was wearing a dress made from roughly one square inch of some extremely stretchy material” and her friend Duane, a large bald man draped with “an eleven-foot Burmese albino python named Blossom”.

Welcome to Miami.

Seth gets drunk and curls up asleep under the bar only to awake to find his friends gone. He takes a cab, with the assistance of Cyndi and Duane, to his reserved suite at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Key Biscayne. Only then does he realize that he’s left his suitcase back at the bar. Inside the suitcase is Tina’s priceless diamond wedding ring. Duane is dispatched to retrieve the suitcase.

Seth and Cyndi find the suite already occupied by a giant African-America stripper named LeDawne who wants her $200 fee. Seth calls his ‘Groom Posse’ who are stranded penniless outside a Russian clip joint. Seth wanders off to find an ATM machine, collapses on the beach and wakes up in time to rescue from drowning Laurette, a Haitian refugee, along with her toddler son and infant daughter. He takes the trio up to his suite where he meets Wilson, LeDawne’s even bigger boyfriend, who, for a fee, lends Seth his Cadillac Escalade so that he can pick up his posse and his parents at the airport. The doddering Sid and Rose Weinstein are waiting with their suitcases “in a violently pink hue, like large radioactive wads of bubble gum, purchased from Sears during the Carter Administration”. Inside is a healthy supply of medical marijuana brownies sent by their daughter in California.

Duane, meanwhile, has picked up Seth’s suitcase but has been called away on a medical emergency involving another python and has left the suitcase under a tarpaulin at a private zoo in the Everglades known as Primate Encounter. Cyndi and Seth leave the hotel again to fetch the suitcase but there’s another complication: a 250-pound orangutan named Trevor. He has pulled the tarpaulin and suitcase into his cage. Ripping apart the suitcase, he finds the wedding ring and decides he likes the smell of it.

Meanwhile, back at the Ritz Carlton, the guests at the wedding rehearsal dinner run amok on the medical brownies. Laurette and her two children are kidnapped by two goons employed by Tina’s father, Brewer and Castronovo, known as “the Tinker Bells, in recognition of the magical power they had to enable people to fly, at least for brief periods”. Tina, while officially an idealist about illegal immigrants, doesn’t want them around to spoil her wedding.

Seth and Cyndi don’t know this as they set out for Primate Encounters and their horrific meeting with Trevor. This sets the stage for a wild car and boat chase through Miami and environs involving an apparent armed robbery of a 7-Eleven and an ape assault upon three security guards and the nose of Brewer.

Like a cherry atop this tall whipped cream of a novel, there is a surprise ending.

Dave Barry’s novel, ‘Insane City’ is available for the kindle from Amazon priced at US$11.99 by clicking here, or by order through all good bookshops in Phuket.

— James Eckardt

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Cannabis

Cannabis drinks now available in Thailand convenience stores

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Ichitan is now selling cannabis drinks across Thailand. (via IchitanGroup.com)

From darkened back alleys to brightly lit 7-11 aisles, people in Thailand can now get their once-illegal cannabis fix in flavoured drinks at convenience stores and vending machines. The nation’s biggest bottled tea producer Ichitan Group has launched 2 new drinks with terpenes, the compounds that give that ganja smell.

The cannabis drinks Ichitan launched are not aimed at the party crowd like other combinations of drinks and controlled substances – they are less Four Loko at the club and more sipping while curled up with a good book. One is a terpene scented sugar-free camomile green tea and the other is a lemon and terpene infused sweet green tea. Cannabidiol or other psychoactive elements have been left out of the teas.

These cannabis drinks are selling for 30 baht across Thailand in 7-11 stores, malls, conveniences stores, and more than 13,000 vending machines. Ichitan is hoping to sell 500 million baht worth of the teas this year as the first company to nationally mass market cannabis products. Their CEO said the “urban new generation” is their target demographic and that being first to market is an important strategy.

Thailand first legalised registering medicinal marijuana in 2019, but in January restrictions were loosened to open the gates to various products and usage. Restaurants and cafes sprung up cooking hemp dishes, and bars created hemp-infused cocktails. People can now get a permit to grow hemp and manufacture and sell cannabis products. Thai law still treats hemp and cannabis differently as hemp is almost completely free of THC and is traditionally used for making clothes, rope, paper and similar products from its strong fibres.

Ichitan admits that the cannabis used in their drinks aren’t fully legalised yet, though they expect the entire supply chain and process to be approved soon as the cannabis legalisation trend grows around the world. Farming is still only allowed with strict government observation, and the narcotic use of ganja is only allowed for cultivation, research and medical use.

Recreational use is not permitted in Thailand yet, though 16 states in the US allow it, and Mexico has legislation pending. Medicinal marijuana is legal in 50 countries already.

Covid-19 has delayed a surge of cannabis progress in Thailand, with businesses on lockdown and a Bangkok cannabis convention postponed from April 19-20 (4/20 – cannabis enthusiast’s magic number) to July 19-20, as well as a seminar on cannabis extracts cancelled yesterday.

But in Thailand, the government sees huge potential, with MFC Asset Management planning Thailand’s first hemp-related mutual fund with expectations of over 17% annual growth over the next 5 years. Farmers could grow hemp and cannabis with large profits, and the Thai government is even eying a tourism boost for medical tourism and just plain curious travellers.

SOURCE: Nikkei Asia

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Cannabis may ease lung inflammation from Covid-19, study

Neill Fronde

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Stock photo by Washarapol D Bin Yo Jundang for Pexels

Cannabis may help ease and reduce lung inflammation for Covid-19 patients, according to a recent study. Researchers in the study claim the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, cannabinol, or CBD, has anti-inflammatory properties.

More research should be done on how CBD and treating severe lung inflammation from the coronavirus, according to researchers from University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute indicates. Their recent peer-reviewed article in the latest issue of Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity investigates cannabis’ anti-inflammatory qualities.

Covid-19 can cause inflammation that leads to pneumonia which can clog lungs and cause breathing difficulties, an often deadly symptom of the coronavirus. This is why researchers are emphasising anti-inflammatory treatments for infected patients.

“There are drug treatments like Tocilizumab that clears patients’ lungs with a 90% success rate, but the side effects are harsh, including the risk of coronary artery disease and pancreas inflammations. Cannabis may be a key solution since it doesn’t carry such severe negative side effects.”

The CBD treatment made from cannabis does not carry the same effects of THC or smoking marijuana would, though THC has also been shown to be anti-inflammatory but is with more side effects. Cannabis already carries FDA approval, even being used for children with intractable epilepsy.

Aside from anti-inflammatory use, CBD also reduces several factors that contribute to severe Covid-19 cases and also increases proteins that prevent the virus from replicating by activating immune cells. Previous studies with asthmatic animals showed CBD reduced airway inflammation as well as pulmonary fibrosis, which can be an after-effect of Covid-19 damaging and scarring lung tissue causing breathing problems.

The cannabis study on lung inflammation shows that doses up to 1500 milligram a day were safe for up to 2 weeks. The researchers also noted that as an added bonus CBD reduces anxiety, something very useful for the stress of life during a pandemic. Helpfully, cannabis was recently legalised in Thailand and the government has been drafting regulations on importing it.

While the article doesn’t directly link cannabis as a treatment for Covid-19, the evidence on CBD’s effect on lung inflammation, a dangerous symptom of coronavirus, makes further research worthwhile. The researchers urge further research to experiment if cannabis can be directly incorporated into Covid-19 treatment to help with inflammation and anxiety too.

SOURCE: Forbes

 

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Thailand

Thailand drafting new regulations for cannabis and hemp seeds

Thaiger

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Photo by Rick Proctor for Unsplash

A new regulations for cannabis and hemp seeds imports is in the works by Thailand’s Agriculture Department. With certain parts of the cannabis plant now off the narcotics list, many are tapping into the market for CBD, or cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive component in hemp and cannabis.

With the rising demand for hemp and cannabis, the department is revising regulations to make the rules more clear, according to department’s director general, Pichet Wiriyapapha. Those importing cannabis and hemp seeds will also need to get permission from the department. He says they plan to announce the new plan on cannabis and hemp seed regulations in May.

“Now we have only four strains of hemp developed for higher fibre yield, but not for the strain for higher CBD that is currently required for cosmetics and healthcare products. That is why we do need to actively develop such a strain to respond to the high demand in the market.”

CBD is known for its relaxing effects. Although there is still little research to back the claims, many say CBD can lesson anxiety and depression as well as provide relief for muscle pain and arthritis. In Thailand, CBD is growing in popularity, but parts of the cannabis plant high in the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, are still classified as a Category 5 narcotic.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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