Some recreational cannabis users in Vietnam’s biggest cities have taken up growing their own weed indoors to cut costs associated with the outlawed hobby.
It was past midnight when Bui Ta Tu, a cannabis seeds dealer from the northern province of Bac Ninh, phoned his ‘clients’ announcing the arrival of a new shipment.
“For this type of fast-growing seed, there’s only a two-month wait between sowing and reaping,” Tu assured his buyers.
Cannabis, also known as marijuana, ‘pot’ or ‘weed’ among other names, is a psychoactive drug that can create a general change in perception, heightened mood, and an increase in appetite in users, according to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The drug can be used by smoking, vaporizing, within food, or as an extract, either for medical or recreational purposes.
Despite the production of cannabis being illegal in Vietnam, punishable by up to life imprisonment or death, many pot smokers in the country are risking their lives growing the banned drug inside their own homes.
|A cannabis farm. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Tu has become a household name among indoor marijuana growers in the northern provinces of Vietnam, being a major importer of cannabis seeds to supply to Hanoi, Hai Phong and Quang Ninh markets.
His prices range from VND350,000 (US$15) per seed to VND2.5 million ($107) per ten seeds for buck buyers.
Not only does Tu sell cannabis seeds, he also grows a little ‘weed farm’ of his own and sells the fully-grown drugs to buyers.
In Ho Chi Minh City, the go-to man for first-timers is Le Thanh Dat, who is known for providing useful tips on looking after indoor weed farms and finding outlets for one’s harvest.
According to Dat, his prices are one of the most affordable among local dealers, around VND200,000-300,000 ($8.57-13.85) per seed, as his clients are mostly undergraduate students.
“Premium seeds take only two months to become harvest-ready, while regular seeds take three,” he explained.
“Long-term pot smokers tend to grow their own drug, otherwise they’d go bankrupt affording the expensive hobby,” Dat said.
Those with more money to spend should invest on a fabric closet similar to a ‘greenhouse,' in which they can grow cannabis safely without worrying about police detection, Dat advised.
“Better safe than sorry, as what you’re doing is basically produce narcotics,” he said.
|Harvested cannabis is dried and bottled before being sold to customers. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
On Facebook, many private and public groups have been created as a platform for marijuana growers to connect with buyers.
“One gram for VND2.2 million [$95], five grams for VND10 million [$430], always readily available,” an advertisement on one of those sites reads.
Tran Dinh Trung, a prominent marijuana dealer in Ho Chi Minh City, said most dealers are drug addicts themselves.
“Nobody gets involved in these things and manages to remain not addicted,” Trung said.
|A cannabis user demonstrates how to smoke the drug at a karaoke bar in Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
According to Chu Thi Hoa, head of drug investigation under Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem District Police, marijuana users tend to ‘upgrade’ to narcotics and ecstasy once they feel cannabis is no longer enough to satisfy their needs.
“Word should be spread on the terrible effects and consequences of this psychoactive drug on users,” Hoa said, adding that cannabis usage among Vietnamese youth has been on the rise recently.
“School students and undergraduates are most susceptible to the attraction of recreational drugs,” she added.