Take a moment to consider the term ‘cannabis tourism’ and think about exactly what it means to you. Now, compile a list in your mind of five, maybe even 10 locations worldwide that fit the bill as epic destinations for pot-heads.
It’s probably safe to say that if we put 100 of these lists together, 99 of them would predominantly feature the same destinations. Amsterdam, various regions in Spain, Colorado, Alaska, California and so on. The list is growing all the time, with new and exciting cannabis destinations popping up all over the place as the world collectively moves toward more sensible tolerance of the stuff.
However, chances are that if we put about 1,000 of the same lists together, there’s one cannabis tourism destination that probably wouldn’t make it to any of them.
Wait a minute…are we talking about the same place ruled over by Kim Jong-un? As in the totalitarian dictator who routinely executes prominent officials and in some cases members of his own family with anti-aircraft guns? A country where words like acceptance and tolerance are not exactly what you’d call the order of the day?
Indeed we are…THAT North Korea.
There aren’t a great many people these days who beam about the prospect of making North Korea a place for regular trips. Well, apart from Dennis Rodman, anyway. Nevertheless, it seems that Rodman may have known a little something about the cannabis situation in North Korea, which as of right now just seems to be capturing the attention of the Chinese. Indeed, Chinese tourists in growing numbers are flocking to North Korea, in order to take full advantage of the kind of cannabis culture that’s nothing if not unexpected.
But what is it about the cannabis scene in North Korea that’s making it one of the most interesting and indeed enticing anywhere in the world?
North Korean Cannabis Farms
Well, first of all there is the fact that while it remains uncertain as to whether or not North Korea actually has any cannabis laws to speak of, they do not seem to be bothered about enforcing them. In reality, it’s actually quite to the contrary. There are plenty of areas in North Korea close to the borders of China and Russia where farmers have for generations been struggling even to survive. Nevertheless, said farmers have discovered that the secret to improving their income and climbing out of poverty could lie in cannabis cultivation. Which is precisely what they have started doing – growing the stuff in massive quantities and selling it for ridiculously cheap prices.
Which is where the second reason cannabis tourism in North Korea is so appealing comes into the equation. In fact, you might want to make sure you’re sitting down when you read this. According to a report recently published by The Sun, a full pound of high quality cannabis in certain parts of North Korea will set you back…ready…$3. That’s not a misprint…$3. 448g, 16-ounces or however you’d prefer to measure it – all for a lower price than a damn coffee from Starbucks! And as already mentioned, law enforcement doesn’t seem to give a damn about any of this taking place. It might sound impossible that anyone could really make any kind of living selling cannabis for such a low price, but these farmers are actually said to be doing way better than when they were cultivating conventional crops.
So does this mean the time has come to splash out on airline tickets to Asia? Perhaps, though it’s important to remember that cannabis laws in China are still extremely severe and anyone caught with even a small amount of the stuff faces the prospect of quite ridiculously OTT punishments. To be honest, the rules in Russia really aren’t much better either. Nevertheless, Chinese tourists in particular are flocking to North Korea to pick up extraordinary quantities of cannabis for pocket change, only to then to return to China and sell it for astronomical prices, given the way it is much harder to get hold of back home.
And of course, there’s also the way in which North Korea as a whole has a global reputation for committing horrific human rights violations and is known not to take kindly to tourists acting up. As such, it’s unlikely that North Korea is going to overtake the likes of Amsterdam anytime soon – even if you could quite literally fill your suitcase with quality cannabis and still get change from $50.
What’s particularly interesting about the situation in North Korea is the way in which the concept of selling cannabis for cheap prices to Chinese and Russian visitors is relatively new. This, despite the fact that cannabis has been a relatively normal part of life in North Korea for hundreds of years. So you’d think the two would go hand in hand, but in reality cannabis has always been such a normal part of life in North Korea that it is not considered an illicit drug, instead being regarded as something perfectly normal and of no real consequence. Remarkably, the fact that the North Korean government makes it so difficult for citizens of the country to learn anything about the outside world has led to a situation where even in the 21st century, most people in North Korea have no idea that cannabis is illegal in other countries or considered harmful by certain governments.
Pretty shocking, isn’t it?
Cannabis Grown For Cooking Oil
So it’s not as if cannabis was ever grown in large quantities for commercial purposes, given the way in which there was no real call for a mass industry. That is, until former supreme leader Kim Il-sung decided back in the 1980s that the best way of solving a nationwide cooking oil shortage was to declare cannabis a viable crop for producing oil. Ever since, farmers have been producing absolutely spectacular quantities of cannabis for the production of oil and other products, never realising that their crops were probably worth tens of millions of dollars elsewhere.
In fact, it was and still is seen by most of the North Korean population as of such little value that vast quantities of cannabis are used for the production of rabbit food.
Such is the prolific nature of cannabis cultivation in North Korea that you really don’t have to travel far to find the stuff growing out in the wild. As for whether or not you’d get away with grabbing a few kilos and getting high as a kite back in Pyongyang…well, it’s not the kind of thing any sensible person would endorse, given the way in which North Korea has a reputation for being a little on the strict side.
In the years and decades to come though, who knows?