A supporter shows his love at a Friday news conference for a cannabis festival next month in Buriram province.
BURIRAM — From the land of football and Formula 1 comes a new pro-cannabis festival featuring everything from music and art installations to educational workshops and vendors.
Set to run three days at the F1 speedway in Buriram, “Pan Ram” (“Buriram Species,” sort of) expects to draw more than 20,000 daily attendees to celebrate cannabis culture at the dawn of the legalization age.
Behind the event is former political powerbroker Newin Chidchob, the man revered locally for delivering a world-class football stadium and race circuit to what had been a neglected and impoverished rural province. Several years into retirement from politics, 60-year-old Newin, now president of Buriram United FC, is throwing the weed party along with several pro-marijuana advocates. Not coincidentally, promotion of cannabis as a cash crop is one of the central policies of the party he founded, Bhumjaithai.
At a Friday press conference at The Street Ratchada in Bangkok to talk about the fest, Newin showed up with allies such as Buriram Gov. Theerawat Wutthikun and Prapat Panyachatrak, chairman of National Farmers Council.
The festival, a first for the northeastern region, aims to promote awareness and understanding of the plant which has been illegal since the Narcotics Act of 1979.
“Marijuana is like a genie kept in the lamp a long time, and now it’s out,” Prapat said. “It’s our chance now to make use of it.”
More than a mind-altering drug, Newin said he regards marijuana as a “nation-altering plant,” given that legalization will lead to saving lives and creating economic value.
Bhumjaithai has campaigned on allowing every household to grow six marijuana plants which could be sold to authorized agencies, something it says would generate over 420,000 baht per year per family.
“If we can push for this to make our people’s lives a little better, why not do it?” Newin said.
Heading the project is his daughter, Chidchanok “Nan” Chidchob. She said the three-day festival will welcome cannabis activists to lead talks and Rangsit University professors to host educational workshops on medical marijuana.
Nan said Tuesday that the event’s goal is to push for marijuana liberation and give everyone a “full-immersion experience” that covers all of marijuana’s benefits – economic, medical and recreational.
Well-known hip-hop acts and rappers such as Joey Boy, Thaitanium and Twopee will be those among music playing three stages alongside art installations, food stalls and handcraft vendors popping up in the open-air venue.
Pan Ram will run April 19-21 at the Chang International Circuit. The Formula 1 track is located in Buriram city, about 400 kilometers from Bangkok.
Newin Chidchob sports his Party Party T-shirt making light of his life after national politics. Photo: Uncle Newin / Facebook
Tickets are 420 baht per day, and 1,000 baht for all three days. More details will be announced at a later date.
Those bringing valid medical certificates for one of the conditions that can now be legally treated with cannabis can enter free of charge.
Pan Ram is Thailand’s second pro-cannabis festival.
In Bangkok, advocacy group Highland is hosting its fifth such event on the same day. The 5th Thailand 420 will take place on April 20 at Runway 3119, a night market near Suvarnabhumi International Airport in the capital’s Lat Krabang district.
As marijuana decriminalization spreads worldwide, April 20 or Weed Day has become celebrated globally with events embracing cannabis culture.