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Ethnobotanical Aspects of Cannabis in Southeast Asia

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Cannabis indica, originating in central Asia, was probably introduced into Southeast Asia about the sixteenth century. The vernacular name used throughout Southeast Asia is derived from the Sanskrit ganja. Cultivation of the plant is on a family basis, several roots planted around the house. Ganja is openly sold in the markets. The female plants are smoked, together with tobacco. The occasional cases of intoxication are remedied by decoctions of native plants. Ganja leaves and stalks are used extensively in the cuisine, to provide both an euphoric quality and agreeable flavor. Recognized as an analgesic, cannabis is used to combat, among other conditions, cholera, malaria, dysentery, anorexia, and loss of memory; it relieves asthma and calms the nerves; suppresses polyps, coughing, dizziness and convulsions; facilitates digestion and childbirth; it stimulates lactation, purifies the blood and clears the bile, regulates the function of the heart, liver and lungs; eliminates intestinal parasites, decongests the organism and is a treatment for paralysis. Cannabis is considered a source of social well-being to be shared with friends and is also used to ease difficult work tasks.

Data are presented principally from Cambodia with some observations about Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. There are marked similarities in the use of cannabis in these countries.

I wish to acknowledge the assitance of Mlle Uraisi Varasarin and M. Pierre Marie Gagneux in carrying out this study.



Cannabis, better known by the name of Indian hemp, hashish or marihuana, is famous throughout the world for its psychoactive properties. Its chemical components are well-known and will be referred to here only in relation to certain uses of the plant. Psychopathological reactions have also been examined by numerous writers and are still subject to active research. I shall limit myself here to noting the different uses of cannabis and attitudes regarding the plant. It is therefore from an ethnological rather than a pharmacodynamic perspective that this study is presented.

The field of study is based essentially on Cambodia. Some observations were also made in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam; and we shall see that within this area, there are great similarities among the different countries.


While it is known with certainty that hemp grows wild in central Asia, it is less clear when it was introduced into the above mentioned countries: Was it in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, by the Arabian conquerors; or by the Spanish and Portuguese who set up commercial activities in the region in the sixteenth century? For the inhabitants, it would be the Indians who brought in the plant. In Vietnam, one of the names of the species is gai ariclô, or Indian grass-cloth plant, and as we shall see the Sanskrit name is widespread throughout the peninsula.


In these four countries of Southeast Asia the vernacular name is directly derivable from the Sanskrit guñja:
Thailand: kancha: or kanhcha:; there would also be kanhcha:(thai), kanhcha:thet (foreign), and kanhcha:cin (Chinese). In the absence of plant samples, I cannot say what these different names correspond to botanically.
Cambodia: kanhcha:.
Laos: kan xa.
Vietnam: can xa or gai dndô.

These names seem to be quite old, except in Vietnam where cari xa has become popular since the massive introduction of drugs in the last few years. Previously, the term gai eifidô or dai dfidô were used. Names given to the seed and the kernel, which were frequently used in medicine, underwent some Chinese influence as well: dai ma tzir or dai ma hôt (seed); dai ma nhein (kernel); dai or gai (Vietnamese name designating the grass-cloth plant); ma, a term encountered in several Chinese plant names, e.g., ta ma (cannabis), tchou ma (Boehmeria), and pi ma (Ricinus); tk (Chinese word to denote seed); hôt (Vietnamese word to denote seed); and nhein (Vietnamese word to denote the kernel).

The inhabitants also recognize male and female plants. In Cambodia, this distinction crosscuts scientific reality, perhaps because the normal criterion for differentiation of the male plants from the female ones is, at least for the peasants of this country, the size of the leaves. It will be noted that, in the case of cannabis, the male, slender plants have smaller leaves than the females, whose leaves are more developed, which conforms to the data derived from empirical analysis. We, therefore, have male cannabis (botanical) kanhcha: (chm9 :I) and female cannabis (botanical) kanhcha: (nhi:).

We are led to make a similar comment for Laos, where yet another division within the female group was pointed out to me: male cannabis (botanical) kan xa: (phu:), also called kan xa: chic (flower), probably because its flowers are grouped together in a broad panicle visible from a distance, the more discrete female inflorescence being composed of single flowers with axillae of foliacious bracts often requiring closer examination before being recognized; and female cannabis (botanical) kan xa:me including hua nok khao (owl head), and kali.

This last dichotomy seems to rest on superficial characteristics, the extremity of the leafy stem thus being the significant trait determining the assignment of a particular name. We might be tempted, by analogy with hua nok khao, to translate kali as "elephant," a word which is part of the current lao mais vocabulary. It is not obvious what this resemblance corresponds to in reality; the word kali occurs also in Cambodia and Thailand. In Thailand, it denotes inflorescences; and in Cambodia, kali denotes seed, which explains why the use is limited to female flowers. To my knowledge, it is used exclusively for cannabis. The term appears in no Khmer or Sanskrit dictionaries, therefore, it is not possible to give a translation or etymology for it.'

In Laos, it is by the common term clok that the flowers of the hemp plant are named. There is no special vocabulary for the other parts used:

                       leaf    stem
Cambodia    slvk    dam
Thailand       bai    tôfi
Laos              bai    tôù
Vietnam        la    than

It should be noted that we are not talking here of the resin, for the natives smoke the raw plant simply chopped up. This material does not have any special name; whether the entire plant is chopped up ready to smoke, mixed with tobacco, or put into the pipe, it is always kânhcha. In Vietnam, the preparation with a resinous base that has been recently introduced (ccin xa:) is smoked mostly by foreigners. It is since this period that more severe controls over growing and using intoxicating plants have appeared in this country.


Commercial growing of hemp is not legally authorized in Cambodia. Under the French Protectorate, Customs and Excises controlled the entire territory of French Indochina. After independence, King Suramarinth, under the edict of kram No. 10 NS of May 30, 1955, halted all growing of cannabis. The Bureau of Narcotics created last year in Phnom Penh (by kret No. 481.72 PRK of July 14, 1972) emphasized the repression of opium traffic and updated complementary clauses relative to hemp. These plants have apparently never been intensively cultivated; and neither the poppy nor "grass" seems to have been smoked regularly by the inhabitants. While the former does not exist anywhere in Cambodia, on the other hand, there can frequently be found small plots of cannabis around houses (see Plate 1); the largest garden we observed contained about seventy plants. Although the species require rich and humid soil, it grows quite often in sandy dry soil with only water and chicken or cattle manure required from time to time. Female kilnheha: nhi: plants yield a small number of seeds which are left to soak in water for three days before being planted in open ground. The best time for sowing the seeds is during the rainy season (hemp is harvested during the dry season), but cultivation can be started at any time during the year provided that the amount of water indispensable to growth is provided. When the inflorescence develops after four or five months, it is called laang kali: haay (laang, the verb "to climb," also used to translate the completion of an action; haay, particle marking the past). However, along the river and closer to Vietnam, cultivation of these plants is of greater importance.

Nearly all the harvest is bought from the grower, at 3000 riels per kilo for female plants, by an intermediary who resells them, either on the open market at ten riels per package of seven or eight tops from flowering female plants, or to restaurateurs or individual buyers (male or female plants). In Laos, a package of smoking hemp (ten flowering stems) costs ninety kips2, or twenty kips for the same amount of stems without flowers, both male and female, for making soup. Retail sale of the plant is absolutely free in Cambodia and Laos, as may be seen in Plate 2. In Thailand, since the formation of the new government in December 1971, cannabis has not appeared openly and its use in popular medicine has been regulated: it must always be used together with other plants in medical preparations and may not be the sole ingredient of any medication.

Cultivation is hardly more widespread in Laos than in Cambodia, nor is it in Thailand, except perhaps in the north and in a few central regions. In Vietnam, it is important in Chaudec, a Cambodian border region. At any rate, cultivation here does not achieve the significance of the opium fields of Laos; hemp may formerly have been cultivated on a larger scale locally. Thirteen kilometers downstream from Vientiane, on the banks of the Mekong, is the village of Ban Het Kansa, or the village of the hemp-covered sand bank; there is no longer any trace of this plant, which must have been cultivated here some time in the past (Taillard 1971).

The male and the female plants have different destinations which we will now consider.



Unlike the kif of Arab countries and the marihuana of others, which are prepardtions with resinous bases derived from the stem or the flowers of the plant, hemp in Southeast Asia is smoked with no prior treatment at all. It is essentially the flowering female plant that is used; the bracts are known to produce the desired state of euphoria, because of the cannabinol they contain. However, the entire plant is used, after being dried in the sun — the stem, the leaves, and the inflorescence. The plant is cut into small pieces, and tobacco is added to it; more rarely, it is smoked alone. Cigarettes of the mixture are made wrapped in the same way as ordinary cigarettes; for example, paper, leaf of maize (slyk po:t) leaves of the Cornbretum quadrangulare (slyk sdngkae), parts of banana leaves (slyk ce:c); more frequently, the mixture is placed in the bowl of a water pipe made of bamboo (rut sey). It should be noted that the chopping block on which the plant is cut is a slab of Cambodian strychnos wood (slang)(phya:mtu: lek in Thailand), as it is thought that bits of this wood added to the hemp constitute a cough remedy, and that a pleasant taste is derived from the strychnos (khlrm). Another practice in Cambodia consists of cooking down the hemp and sprinkling the tobacco with the juice from the boiled plant.

The Khmers smoke only the female plants, because it is said that cigarettes made from the male plant cause an eye disease, or rheum (a:c phnek). Moreover, the female plants are more effective in that they contain more resin.

In Laos, several qualities of hemp are distinguished: first quality: harvested in the winter when covered with dew (the strongest variety); second quality: harvested at other times; and third quality: comprised of the plants that were not gathered at the proper time and whose development may be incomplete, with the euphoric power thus reduced. This particular point concerning the qualities cannot be more precisely stated at this time.

In certain regions of Laos, the dried leaves of the kan xa: hua tick khao are used for their euphoric quality. In Cambodia, the kdnhcha:nhi: are sometimes smoked without the flowers; the effects produced by the flowers are less strong, and we shall see later that they are used in cooking.


When there is a lack of cannabis, there is recourse to other plants. In Thailand in particular, tew, an indeterminate species, would be a good replacement. Leaves are also smoked of the Mitragyna speciosa, a bush growing profusely in Chieng Mai, but this yields secondary reactions which will be noted later. For medication, in the absence of kancha, the entire Grangea darerasparana (composite) plant is used, or the phya:muti. Users are reluctant to employ the root of the Mitragyna for they say it makes breathing difficult. According to Burkill (1966), the effects of Mitragyna speciosa are worse than those ascribed to hemp and are more like those caused by opium. It seems that the narcotic power of this species was known in ancient Siam; its use then spread to Malaysia.

In Cambodia, no substitutes are noted. In the absence of kcinhcha, people smoke a quality of tobacco called "strong" (thnam khlang); but this is only a short-term solution, and it is rare that hemp is unavailable for long periods of time. In medications, it may be replaced, but not necessarily, by the Cananga latifolia (chkaê sraeng), which also produces a reaction (chual), but not a serious one.

Frequency of Use

In Cambodia, it is essentially the males who smoke keinhcha. Their first attempts generally occur when they are around fifteen years old; more rarely, young Cambodian girls use the pipe, although they are not authorized to do this before the age of eighteen. This practice is common, however, among the women of certain northeastern tribes (at least, this is what I have observed in a Bu nong village). On the whole, there are few Khmers who become intoxicated by the plant, for they do not smoke regularly, taking only a few puffs from time to time when the opportunity presents itself. However, some have assumed the habit, especially among strangers, of lighting their pipes several times a day. It is in this way that one often meets former members of the French army who can no longer do without the "benefits" of cannabis. For these few people, we can consider the plant is used to provide intoxication, or at least habitude (five or ten pipes three times a day). When there is some deficiency in the drug, reactions are immediate — anorexia, extreme nervousness, irritability, aggression. Return to daily use rapidly dissipates these symptoms.

In Thailand, if the user wishes to nullify the effects, he goes to the medicine man to get the root of the ra:k ya: nang deng (Anacardiacée?) used to cure all sorts of intoxication. Two types of cures are possible:

Intoxication is temporary, due to occasional use; the root is rubbed on a stone until the plant is completely pulverized and a bit of rice water is added. The small glass of boiled root and rice water obtained is then drunk all at once.

Intoxication is due to prolonged use; the remedy must be taken each time there is a desire to smoke and until hemp can be completely relinquished. For this purpose, the medication may consist of a tea made of the root, taken in limitless quantities.

In Cambodia, smokers prefer to consume large quantities of sugar or sweet meats for which they seem to feel a great need, or even acidic foods. During the cure period, one showers frequently.

Besides the fact that these daily doses do not seem — at least in the first twenty years of life — to lead to "depravity," it sometimes happens that the accidental ingestion of a large quantity of hemp all at once can result in serious problems. The ones observed were the following: repeated loss of consciousness, except in these moments of weakness, however, complete lucidity; excessive nervousness; increased hilarity or anxiety, depending upon the subject; accentuation of the dominant individual character trait; increased heart rate, pupil dilation, and pains in the chest. Pupil dilation persisted for several days, the chest difficulties and nervousness disappeared only after ten to twelve days.

The noxious effects of cannabis are sometimes exploited for criminal purposes. It has been pointed out to me, in one of the countries I visited, that the suppression of an individual was easily resolved by increasing the dosage of hemp in a medicinal preparation. These preparations are quite numerous, as will be seen below.

Medicinal Uses

Besides the restrictions in Thailand, already noted, there is no regulation of the use of hemp in popular medicine. Everywhere it is considered to be of analgesic value, comparable to the opium derivatives. Moreover, it can be added to any relaxant to reinforce its action. Cooked leaves, which have been dried in the sun, are used in quantities of several grams per bowl of water. This decoction helps especially to combat migraines and stiffness; taken before sleep and before meals, it relaxes the nerves. Other plants may eventually be added. This beneficial medical action is recognized both by the peasants and by the official pharmacopoeia of these countries. This is not the case, however, for all the remedies to be enumerated, since popular medicine sometimes includes magical elements. At any rate, it is interesting to note the significance attached by the peasants to a plant which seems never to have been widespread in the region.

In Cambodia, the entire male or female plant is used for the cure of numerous maladies. By the entire plant, is meant all of the vegetative and reproductive organs; often, however, the female flowers are only added in small amounts to give the sick person a feeling of well-being. A glass of the decoction, taken before the two principal meals of the day, restores the appetite; treatment generally lasts for only a day, but may be continued longer if necessary. The identical result is achieved by smoking a mixture of male and female plants.

Cigarettes made of hemp and the stem of the Cananga latifolia (Hook f. and Thoms.) Finet and Gagnep (chkai srang) smoked daily will make polyps of the nose disappear (rw h do:ng).
The fragrant bark of the tepiru, a myrtle which grows among the giants of the dense Cambodian forests, and that of the seimbo lying, a species of Cinnamomwn, when boiled with hemp yield a beverage which facilitates digestion (rumliay mho:p — "to dissolve food"); a glass is taken before each meal. According to the Cambodians, this medication has a stronger effect than injections, which are however considered the most effective remedy in western pharmacopoeia.

After delivery of a baby, cannabis is extensively used: the infusion made from the tops (cong) of both male and female plants — about ten per liter of water — brings a feeling of well-being (srual khluan) to the mother. It is preferable to limit consumption to one small glassful before each meal, for fear of intoxication. The female flowers are used just as much as are the male: young mothers who do not have enough milk to nurse their babies twice daily take a concoction made of hemp, the stems of a bush, Cinnamomum sp. (seimb3 hag), and different tropical creepers: Tetracera Loureiri Craib (dâng kwan), Walsura villosa Wall. ex. Hiern (sdok sdao), Illigera sp. (v3: kro:c); the alcoholic extract of hemp and the bark of several trees: Aegle marmelos (L.) Correa, Mitragyma sp. (khtom), Cinnamomum sp. (samba Iveng), Walsura villosa, ? Myrtle (tepiru) combats postpartum stiffness (chut: khluan, ch'yng).

Cambodians attribute all sorts of complications (OA) that may occur after the baby's birth to non-observance of nutritional taboos during pregnancy. As a remedy, the mother must take — among other preparations, three times a day until she is well — an alcoholic extract (or decoction) prepared from the following plants: hemp, bark of the Mitragyna sp., the Aegle marmelos (preah phnav), the Annona squamosa L. (tiap khmae), the Psidium Guajava L. (tretbaic), and the Antidesma Ghaesembilla Gaertn (dângkiap khdam).

Individuals affected by malaria use hemp as a cure: one kilogram of male and female plants inhaled (ccimha:y) twice a day until the end of the crisis. The same amount of hemp and of water, in a preparation taken in 2cc. doses before each meal, sometimes replaces the inhalation method, but is not as effective.

Cigarettes or pipes filled with hemp and tobacco are used not only to produce a state of narcosis, but are also used to reduce biliousness (thla: ttuk prâma:t).

While these remedies are being taken, the patient is not subject to nutritional taboos, contrary to what is often the case.

In Thailand, numerous curative virtues are attributed to cannabis. It is used in medications to eliminate dizzy spells (/om). Sandalwood (can diet) and hemp have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the heart, the liver, and the lungs; this is taken in the form of tea. Used alone, cannabis is a remedy for cholera. In such cases, water from the pipe that has been smoked is also drunk.

To suppress convulsions, hemp is ground up in honey with many other plants such as ? Ferula sp. (ma 1114), Garcinia Hanburyi Hook f. (rong thong), wild Dioscorea (kloy), fruit from the Terminalia chebula Retz (sa m3 thai) and the Terminalia belerica Roxb. (sa m5 phi ph'ek), wild Piper (sa khan), Piper retrofractum Vahl (di: ph/i:), an araceous plant (ka dàt thâng song); Eugenia aromaticus H. Bn (ka:n ph/u:), leaves from the Vitex trifolia L. f. (khon thi s5:), leaves from the Caesalpinia sp. (swert), Abroma augusta L. (thiam dam), Lawsonia inermis Roxb. (thian khd:w), Cinnamomum sp. (bp chay), Piper nigrum L. (pt.& thai), unripened fruit from the Aegle marmelos (matum), and heart of the Aegiceras corniculatum Blanc. (samg).

Another preparation consists of an alcoholic extract from hemp and various ground-up plants such as: Artemisia vulgaris L. (kat di la: lampha:), the fruit and flower of the ? Myristica (can), Piper nigrum, Piper chaba Hunter, Zingiber officinale L., wild Piper, Cinnamomum (woodland) (sa ?din la wing), Cinnamomum sp. (op chay), ?Salacia flavescems Kruz (Kh5p cal nang dicing song), a chemical product (arsenic?) (sii:nnei:). This medication cures hemorrhoids and polyps of the throat, intestines, and the sex organs.

To counteract dysentery, the fruit and flower of the can (? Myristica) are dried in a pan with the bark of Eugenia aromaticus, and tubers from ?Curcuma zedoaria and the phlai. These plant materials constitute the number one, indispensable, element of the preparation. The second element, or the krei :y, is the water derived from mashing the hemp and the diii kinh (indeterminate); its significance is secondary. The plants that are soaked vary according to the first element. Both elements are mixed if there is no second element, the products of the first are taken alone, soaked in pure water.

Cannabis is frequently used to stimulate the appetite of sick people and make them sleep. In cigarettes, mixed with tobacco, it relieves asthma. Its use to counteract diarrhea and dysentery is equally common. DUring difficult periods of childbirth, preparations made with hemp facilitate contractions.

Despite its multiple uses, hemp must be taken wisely, especially to avoid the heavy doses that might induce tetanus.

In Vietnam, our information is scarce. Outside of its use as an analgesic the plant is used as a vermifuge to eliminate taenia. Traditional medicine, on the other hand, which has been largely inspired by Chinese medicine, makes great use of cannabis. It is generally the seeds — and preferably the kernels — that are used. The preparation (sac thuoc) is used to combat loss of memory and mental confusion; aging; ailments due to "unhealthy breezes" that engender psoriasis, with dark spots; decongest the organism; eliminate blood wastes; cure dysmenorrhea; and produce a feeling of well-being after childbirth. In obstetrics, if the presentation of the child is awkward, twenty-one kernels boiled in water have the power of replacing him in the normal position.

Paralysis due to phong (allergy, rheumatism, anaphylaxia) is treated by roasting the kernels, and mashing them in baby's urine; the juice is then extracted and a small glassful drunk three times a day. The pulverized kernels, mixed with cooking water from rice, arrest the fall of hair.

In Laos, medicinal uses of hemp seem few, perhaps because of all the opium derivatives available to the inhabitants. However, it is used to cure stomach ailments (ciep thong) and !ling thong or nhung thong, the swollen stomach (of cattle as well as people); the sick person drinks a preparation from the male and female leaves. Sorcerers also use hemp to treat an individual affected by a phi, phi kha, or phi khom; if the phi responsible for the malady smokes, an offering is made of several leaves of kan xa: to restore the health of the patient.

Alimentary Uses

Hemp soup is common throughout Southeast Asia. Sngao in Cambodia, especially sngao moan, flavored with male or female leaves of kânhcha: that have been roasted. These are also added to other soups, samlei
Ke:ng phe:t from Thailand with ground-up kancha: flowers added; Chinese soup sold throughout the region incorporates hemp — the male or female stems in Laos — in order to induce clients to return; this was eventually replaced by green tea.

In Cambodia, the leaves are used in diverse ways: fresh, they are condiments (krutang) for curry or vegetables (banlei"e) to accompany vermicelli soup (num blinhok); they are eaten as vegetables (einlwak) in the form of fritters with fish paste (prkhok).

It is not only the intoxicating power of hemp but the pleasant flavor it imparts to food that makes it good to use in cooking.

Textile Uses
The fibers in the stem of cannabis seem to be scarcely used today, except perhaps by montagnard tribes people. The plains inhabitants are not acquainted with this use, which is completely unknown in Khmer country and no samples harvested in Cambodia can be found in the herbarium of the National Museum of Natural History, in Paris. There are speciemens from Tonkin and Laos, whose labels show they were used as "textile plants." Crévost and Lemarié (1919-1921) speak of a variety (?) cultivated at the beginning of this century on the high plateaus of Laos and the Tonkin area; skirts worn by the meo and nhung ethnic groups were then made of hemp. According to the authors, the meo, from China, would have imported textile hemp north of the Annamese chain in the seventeenth century.

At the beginning of the French Protectorate, attempts at cultivation were made more extensively in the south; faced with the mediocre results obtained — plant growth reduced to 0m60 instead of several meters — production of hemp was halted beyond a southern limit, north of Indochina. Today, grass-cloth plants and jute are the primary textile plants in Southeast Asia.


Traditionally, cannabis has not been prohibited in Southeast Asia. In Cambodia, it is not considered a dangerous product, as opposed to opium, which leads to depravity. For the Khmer people, smoking hemp is an added pleasure to give oneself, and it is agreeable to smoke with friends. Aside from intoxicated individuals we have mentioned, solitary pipe smokers are rare; it is a group pleasure. After the evening meal (5:00 or 6:00 o'clock), the head of the house lays out a straw mat and invites others to accompany him in his search for euphoria. It is not a question of forgetting one's troubles or escaping from heavy obligations; smoking is to avoid being sad, to experience a feeling of well-being (srual khluan). It is the same for enjoying the soup, which, moreover, acquires a pleasant taste. Those who use cannabis speak of its effects: "you are in a drunken mood (snivivang) as with morphine, you are happy, laughing, eating well, you have strength, and can remain in the water for several hours. For military people, consumption of kéinhcha: gives resistance to combat."

As a result of these latter properties — giving strength, allowing one to remain in the water for several hours — hemp is often used to accomplish difficult tasks. Those who smoke daily tend to increase their dosage before going to work in the forest or to harvest jute. Others smoke several pipes before the two principal meals of the day; throughout the time the job takes, their endurance is thus increased. Certainly, it may haPpen that an individual who wishes to prolong the feeling of strength and wellbeing experienced on these occasions gradually turns to regular use of hemp. On the whole, this trend is not frequent. Let us note further that this particular use of kancha: is far from being general and that it is exclusively a male activity, more kinds of jobs being performed only by men. This was also pointed out to me as the case in Laos. In Cambodia, hemp is also a way of combating cold during the cold season.
Being in possession of kcinhcha: does not constitute an offense; the normal reaction is rather to laugh and wish pleasure to the person who has it. The medicine men of Cambodia (kru: thnam) no longer share the distrust of hemp of some of their colleagues in neighboring countries. This is doubtless because they are accustomed to using it and are well acquainted with the proper amounts to prescribe. Hence, people seldom talk anymore of untoward reactions which occur following excessive doses.

In Thailand, users describe what they feel in the following way: "after having used hemp, you want to eat sweets or drink a lot of water; you have red eyes and heavy eyelids; you see everything in a good light and feel very gay. This state doesn't last long if you eat while smoking."

Generally, in Southeast Asia, distrust regarding hemp appears among individuals having cultural and social attitudes patterned after those of the West. As for the peasants, they experiment with everything that belongs to their universe, often have complete knowledge of all the elements that compose it, and how to use them in moderation. There is thus nothing surprising in the fact that they consider cannabis to be a plant that is socially beneficial.

This is an example of application of knowledge regulated by folk understanding.


1966 A dictionary of the economic product of the Malay peninsula. Two volumes. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Ministry of Agriculure and Co-operatives.

1919-1921 Catalogue des produits de l'Indoc Indochine, Bulletin Economique Indochine p. 116. Saigon.

1971 Les berges de la Nam Ngun et du Mékong. Commissariat Général au Plan. Vientiane, Laoshine. Bulletin Économique

1. Kali is a word of Hindi origin, meaning "bud" (personal communication with Dr. Vera Rubin). Linguistics, therefore, argues in favor of introduction of hemp through India, either directly by the Indians, or indirectly by the Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the sixteenth century.

2 Officially, in April 1973, 26 riels = 1 franc at the same rate, 45 riels = 1 franc; 600 kips =1 U.S. dollar, at the same rate, 840 kips =1 U.S. dollar.