Monday, June 25, 2012

Recreational Drugs And Other "Forbidden Fruit"

Items regularly found at night in Bangkok

[As a forward to today's post let me state as clearly as possible that I do not use, endorse nor encourage the usage of any of the items discussed today - except the durian, which can be delicious.]

Anyone who's considering a visit to Thailand ought to know that they punish those they catch with illegal drugs very severely. By these I primarily mean marijuana, heroin, opiates and any form of methamphetamine. If you don't know that you'd better learn about it before you end up sharing a 12 foot by 12 foot cell with 25 others for an open-ended visit, if you're lucky.

Trafficking is punishible by death in Thailand and other Asian countries, and your home country embassy can't really do much more than wave you farewell. Carrying your own prescription drugs into the country has been covered in a post about packing your bags you can check out to begin with.

We'll cover durian another time soon, but the spiky-skinned fruit coming into season in another couple of months is also unwelcome in a lot of places. While its smell can be highly obnoxious to some it isn't illegal.  Come to think of it, if merely being intensely malodorous were a crime in Thailand there would be a lot of irregularly-bathed tourists who'd be in serious violation of the law.

Being stopped with a durian is the least of your worries

Stupid toys like these pellet guns can (and do)
get people shot here in the US when mistaken
for the real deal.

The less worrisome of the illegal recreational items often pop up (if you'll forgive the erectile disfunction joke) in night markets throughout tourist areas, and can sometimes be purchased in small pharmacies if one is discreet, but more often than not anything that needs a prescription will involve seeing an actual doctor.

Once I was looking for a specific sinus medication and the pharmacist took pity on me when he saw and heard how miserable I was at the time, but that's not at all common.

The Viagra, Cialis and Kamagra you can see up top for sale on a street-side table in Silom aren't liable to land you in prison if you only have enough to qualify as "for personal use", but since a stop in at a clinic is so inexpensive it's still not worth the risk, in my opinion.

What tend to be grouped together under the label of "personal pleasure items" such as vibrators and a wide variety of latex novelties are also illegal in Thailand, although if you insist on making use of them while on holiday you can find them, which is probably less of an embarassment than having an inspector opening your suitcase at Suvarnabhumi International, holding up your Black Mambo and announcing for all to hear "Cannot!", as I actually witnessed a few trips ago. The face on the man standing by the suitcase turned a bright red. And no, it was not me.

Questionable smoking accessories

Some things like smoking paraphernalia are regularly put on display for sale here in the USA in what are euphemistically called "Smoke Shops"; places where the line between legal and illegal is smeared to nearly a meter wide, in some cases.  It's much the same in neatly arranged booths along Silom Road, beneath the Sala Daeng BTS station.

Not even a visit to a doctor's office is liable to get you a prescription for a glass pipe to smoke rock, but stranger things have happened in Thailand, I'm guessing.

My suggestion would be to merely be entertained by the colorful displays, and keep moving along.


khunbaobao said...

Keith accidentally left this comment on the previous post. I've moved it here so others won't miss his worthwhile input on the topic:

"Bao-Bao, I wholeheartedly agree with you sentiments here regarding the foolishness of drug use in Thailand, even soft drugs like marijuana is treated, as you say, along the same lines as harder and chemical concoctions, such as methamphetamines. I have had a friend (as you know) who had a nasty scrape with the authorities for having such about his person some years ago. He first had six months in jail at Pattaya and 6 years after that the case was revisited and he was given 10 years. For whatever reason, he lives around and about SE Asia these days after doing 3. He is a great guy and has never taken illicit drugs in his life. May that be a lesson to the unwary. Cheers Keith"

khunbaobao said...

CFPC - thank you. Typo on my part.