Thailand’s first Cookies cannabis dispensary opens to huge crowds [Photo gallery]

At Cookies’ grand opening in Bangkok, Thailand over the weekend, Leafly caught up with locals, tourists and operators to see how the country became a leader in Asia’s cannabis revolution.

US-based cannabis company Cookies opened a new dispensary on Friday in one of Thailand’s busiest commercial areas, Bangkok’s Pathumwan district.

The new cannabis shop marks Cookies’ 58th showcase and makes Thailand the sixth country on the brand’s global list. The opening also marks a milestone in the spread of cannabis in Asia, where many countries still strictly ban the plant – times seem to be changing fast.

Man holding smoking gun at Cookies Cannabis opening.  The smoking gun that helped customers get high while they waited in line.  (Mikhail Harrison / Leafly)(Mikhail Harrison / Leafly)

Cookies Bangkok shop now welcomes all adults over the age of 20 with valid local ID or passport. After cannabis was removed from Thailand’s narcotics list in June last year, thousands of unlicensed and dozens of legal outlets sprung up to meet demand. Medical marijuana was first legalized in late 2018, but regulations and large-scale supply chains are still a work in progress.

Leafy contributor Mikhail Harrison poses with Thai performers at the Cookies Thailand store in Bangkok.  (Marlon Capital)Leafy contributor Mikhail Harrison celebrates with Thai performers at the Cookies Thailand store in Bangkok. (Marlon Capital)

Currently, growers, trappers and smokers are enjoying a golden era of cannabis access, variety and quality unhindered. Behind the smoke, Thailand’s parliament is fast moving to introduce legislation regulating the cultivation, sale and consumption of cannabis, which could shut down the gray market as early as 2024.

What is Thailand’s cannabis scene like?

Strains such as Green Crack and Godfather OG are on display at a Thai gray market dispensary.A shelf of jars displaying Thailand’s wide range of gray market varieties. (G. Stein / Leaves)

Cookies partner Josh Schmidt, who serves as the vice president of California-based cultivation company Natura and is the co-founder of Dee Thai THC-infused gummies, drew inspiration from Thailand’s cannabis culture. The gummy bears come in a range of natural flavors native to Thailand. Schmidt said he envisions Cookies Thailand as the “united nations” of cannabis for the future, where throngs of smokers from around the world can come together and get high. He plans to open four more stores in Thailand in the coming years.

Thailand is at the forefront of Asia’s thriving cannabis culture

A weed truck in Thailand serves customers joining thousands of gray market vendors.  (G. Stein / Leaves)A weed truck in Thailand serves customers joining thousands of gray market vendors. (G. Stein / Leaves)

During the historic weekend in Bangkok, Leafly visited shops and spoke to locals and tourists to learn how Thai heritage pioneers and activists enabled the country’s thriving medical and gray markets. Keep scrolling to see why patients, growers and US cannabis giants like Cookies and Natura are so excited to share in the rich history of the Thai cannabis community while looking forward to its bright future.

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When did Thailand legalize cannabis?

In 2018, Thailand became the first South Asian country to legalize cannabis when it approved a new medical program. South Korea, Lebanon and Israel are currently the only other Asian countries with some form of medical access. In contrast, many Asian nations still have harsh penalties for possession, cultivation, and distribution. For example, trafficking cannabis is reportedly punishable by death in the Philippines and Malaysia, although Malaysia is now working to set up a medical program.

Where is Cookies Thailand Store located?

Cookies Thailand customers stand in line on the first day of sales in Bangkok.  (Mikhail Harrison / Leafly)(Mikhail Harrison / Leafly)

Cookies Thailand is located at 51/2 Soi Ruamrudee, Lumpinee, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330. You can find out more at or on the store’s Instagram page. In addition to meeting the age limit of 20 years and valid ID, local laws state that visitors cannot be pregnant. Although Thai laws only allow medicinal dispensaries, the high demand and supply for the plant has created a gray market that essentially serves all adults.

Thailand’s longstanding influence on the weed of the world

(G. Stein / Leaves)(G. Stein / Leaves)

Thailand has long been famous in weed circles worldwide thanks to landrace strains like Thai aka Thai Stick that became popular in the States in the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s along with popular offspring like Chocolate Thai. US soldiers stationed in Vietnam and other Asian countries were notorious for smuggling cannabis and other banned plants back into the States. Thai Stick was one of the most popular exports, even earning praise in Cheech and Chong’s infamous 1978 stoner comedy Up In Smoke.

The global presence of cookies extends to Thailand

Cookies opening in Bangkok Customers wait in line.  (Mikhail Harrison / Leafly)(Mikhail Harrison / Leafly)

The opening of cookies, which has been delayed since August, was made possible by a number of partners. The shop is not owned or funded directly by cookies. Instead, longtime Berner employee Josh Schmidt turned his personal connections to Thailand and the knowledge he gained as vice president of California-based company Natura into a dream scenario.

VP of Natura Josh Schmidt (left), Cookies CEO Berner (center) and GUMBO co-owner Alexis Majors (right) were part of the VIP opening of Cookies Thailand in Bangkok on January 21, 2023. (Mikhail Harrison / Leafly)Dee Thai co-founder Josh Schmidt (left), Cookies CEO Berner (centre) and GUMBO co-owner Alexis Majors (right) attended the VIP opening of Cookies Thailand on January 21, 2023 in Bangkok. (Mikhail Harrison / Leaves)

“This store is beautiful and we are grateful to our local partners in Thailand who helped make this possible,” Schmidt said at the opening, along with Cookies VIPs such as Luka Brazi and Alexis Major, aka Mr. and Mrs. GUMBO. Stinje, co-founder of Cookies, was also there. “Thailand is an incredibly unique place full of incredible culture and I am grateful for opening a cookie shop with the support of the country of Thailand,” Schmidt told reporters on the first day. “I hope Bangkok is ready for an exclusive menu of fire genetics.”

Coconut drink Cookies captured the local taste when it opened on the first day in Bangkok.  (Mikhail Harrison / Leafly)Coconut drink Cookies captured the local taste when it opened on the first day in Bangkok. (Mikhail Harrison / Leafly)

Golden Triangle Health is a Thai cannabis company co-founded by Thai investor Tom Kruesophon who is helping Western countries enter the Thai market. Great Earth International, a multi-brand food and beverage company, owns the property where Cookies Thailand’s dispensary is located.

Changing a long history of prohibitions and cultural stigma

Thai traditional dancers entertain customers on the first day of sales in Bangkok.  (Mikhail Harrison / Leafly)(Mikhail Harrison / Leafly)

China, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Russia have some of the harshest penalties for cannabis, including death, lengthy imprisonment and corporal (physical) punishment. Thailand’s recent introduction of cannabis is improving the perception of cannabis in Asia and helping it become more mainstream.

In 2018, Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize medical marijuana, and the plant was decriminalized in June 2022. The country’s first full-time medical cannabis clinic opened in Bangkok in January 2020, but much like New York City, a gray market of unlicensed businesses quickly sprung up across Thailand. There are thousands of unregulated businesses across Thailand, which has a population of 71.6 million – almost twice that of California.

What is it like to visit a cannabis dispensary in Thailand?

(G. Stein / Leaves)(G. Stein / Leaves)

Some pharmacies offer workshops on how to roll joints and brew “weed tea”. There are also “Yoga on High” classes, where a joint, drink and snack are included in the price of admission. Signature cookie strains like London Pound Cake and Girl Scout Cookies were priced at $27 per gram. The cheapest variety is the locally made Thai Loy, which costs around $15 per gram, which is in line with most local menu prices.

Can you grow good weed in Thailand?

Thai officials pose with cannabis plants.  (Anutin Charnvirakul / FB)Thai officials pose with cannabis plants. In 2022, the government encouraged citizens to start home growing as a side hustle. The fruits of their labor should be sold back to the state and not used for personal or commercial consumption. (Anutin Charnvirakul / FB)

Thailand’s tropical climate isn’t ideal for growing all strains outdoors, but some sativas are known to thrive in the tropical environment. There are also a number of indoor growers on the scene. The Cookies store initially worked to import cannabis from its supply chains in Canada or Israel, but instead opted to partner with domestic operators like Sukhumweed Industries to source products. The company’s founder said he wanted to protect the burgeoning Thai market from foreign dominance. We’ve seen a number of impressive cultivation and retail operations that would make smokers in many legal US states the envy.

Popular cannabis strains in Thailand

Classic US strains like Jack Herer and Strawberry Cough are available in Thailand, along with landrace strains like Original Thai aka Thai Stick. Local smokers on the spot told Leafly there’s also a surplus of counterfeit American brands, like Cookies, sold in counterfeit bags. As for Cookies merch and cannabis sold in gray market dispensaries, the company has nothing against smugglers. The chalk of infringement to free brand awareness.

Tuk Tuk brand cookies honor Bangkok culture

(Mikhail Harrison / Leafly)

On the occasion of the grand opening of the store, visitors were invited to take photos with a Cookies brand tuk tuk (three wheeler taxi) in front of the store.

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