Throughout the 72 years in which marijuana, both recreational and medicinal, was completely banned across the United States, new subcultures began to form. One of the largest and most commonly known of these cultures was the hippie movement. However, the people who drove this movement were the suppliers of marijuana, and these people started a culture of their own. Too risky to talk about, this culture remained a secret for decades.
All along the Pacific shores of the United States, groups of fun-loving Americans in the 1960’s seemed to lead normal lives. What their anti-drug peers didn’t see was the undercover business they were leading once the sun went down. Blacked-out ships waited for them just a few short miles off the coast, having just arrived from the Gulf of Thailand. These ships carried 15000 pounds of the most potent marijuana available, carried slowly to the shore in small ferries. Early American drug dealers met these Thai marijuana distributors at the coast, where they then divided the thousands of pounds of illegal drugs to transport back to their hometowns and sell.
Some of the more active participants of the underground American drug dealers took an even more risky role in this culture, deciding to move to Thailand and other Southeastern Asian countries to play a larger role in this business.
Upon the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington, some of these former dealers and distributors decided to share their story with two authors Peter Maguire and Mike Ritter, who published a book called Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade. Under the protection of anonymity, these dealers told their stories from being a participant in the cannabis network. Though this trade came to an end in this 1980’s due to pressures from the DEA, contributors to the book continue to fear prosecution.
Though rarely spoken of, this subculture of Californians becoming dealers or even moving to Thailand to become distributors is one of the most noteworthy in the history of marijuana legalization in America.