(Personal Blog Entry - Trying To Buy Weed In The Philippines)
One evening a few weeks ago, my friend M picks me up.
We walk to his friend’s apartment just a few blocks down, and when we opened the elevator to his floor, I could already smell the undeniable fragrance of my favorite plant gently floating in the air.
Now I knew why we came here: it was to buy some pot.
I met his friend V before, but I didn’t know he was selling. He has a perfectly decent day job that pays well, but sells on the side. V opens the door to his posh condo, and we sit around a round glass table. He opens a silver rectangular tin box, and drops its contents to the glass table: small zip locks of grade-A kush from the USA, which he promptly invited us to take for a test-ride with a few hits off a pipe.
Man, it was delicious. After weeks of being high and dry, I finally was able to restock some of my much-needed medicine.
“Business has been bad,” V says. His sales have dropped as much as 80% in the last few months since President Duterte was elected. People are too paranoid to buy weed… well, it’s no surprise considering that there have been over 6,000 drug-related deaths since July 1, when Duterte was officially President of the Philippines. Many of these deaths are innocent people, and have been the work of vigilantes rather than the president himself. It’s just sad.
It’s More Fun In The Philippines, says our tourism slogan. More like, it’s more deadly here.
In the Philippines, it had always been fairly easy to get some weed, provided that you knew the right people. Here, we don’t have the privilege of choosing from more than 3 strains, you just buy what’s available whether that happens to be sativa or indica for the day. Dealers are the only way to get your pot because it’s still illegal. We don’t have nice dispensaries or budtenders who can educate us about the best strain for the condition we’re suffering from. Most of the bud comes from the nearby mountain provinces because the plant has been grown since ancient times by tribes, and occasionally you’ll get lucky when your dealer has some kush.
It’s always been that way, but it worked and it kept people happy. Stoned people are happy people.
But these days, things have taken a turn for the worse. People are afraid to even talk about drugs, with the fear that someone will knock on your door at midnight and shoot you point-blank. Yes, it’s happened. But while President Durterte is after crack and not marijuana (he has even been supportive of medical marijuana), the pot “industry” and community here has been greatly affected. The US cutting off aid to the Philippines doesn’t scare big bad old Duterte not one bit.
This sucks big-time for me, because I suffer severe anxiety which is sometimes so debilitating it keeps me up till 4am. I’ve recently overcome my first bout of major depression lasting 3 weeks after losing a job and going through a breakup in the span of one month. Friends recommended that I see a shrink but no way did I want to fall victim to big pharma with those medications.
Depression is a dark place, and I need to make sure that I never go through that ever again. Anxiety, insomnia, and depression - these are things that I need my green medicine for. Luckily I had a little grass to get me by, but because everyone was so dry I had to smoke just enough to make sure there was enough for the next day.
While my ills may seem minor and mental in nature, I can’t imagine what’s happening to those who need marijuana as real medicine for their physical ills. A friend of mine whose father just passed from liver cancer, had to search high and low to find cannabis oil for him - and had to shell out a huge sum of money for a tiny vial of the stuff.
Out here, we’re back in the dark ages and legalization seems impossible. It’s depressing how much work is needed just to get some of our much-needed medicine.
I’m better off going to Cambodia and Vietnam, where I’m headed in a few months anyway. Thankfully I’ve been tipped off where I can stay and score some green stuff from hostel owners abroad.
Here’s hoping for a greener 2017 for us all.
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