Kelly Slater and Peter Maguire on telling the 'untold story' of the marijuana trade
A year ago Swellnet obtained a copy of Thai Stick and got intoxicated on the story within. The book's full title is Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade and was written by Peter Maguire and ex-smuggler Mike Ritter.
Thai Stick is a genre-hopping book with wide appeal. So wide, in fact, that it's attracted the attention of clean-living Kelly Slater who recently bought the options for an episodic television series based on the book. As Kelly recently said on his Instagram account, his support for Thai Stick "In no way condones drug use or dealing of any sort. But [the book] does bring into question inconsistencies around drug laws and philosophical questions about personal choice and outlawing nature."
Swellnet recently spoke to Kelly and co-author Peter Maguire about the transition of Thai Stick from print to film and what their motivations are.
Swellnet: When did you buy the options to Thai Stick?
Kelly Slater: A few months ago. Maybe six months or so after I had read it.
Will you have any say in the screen depiction of the book?
I'm no filmmaker but I have opinions about the stories and visuals and I do have a little experience over the years. I'd just like to have enough control retained on the production side for Peter to have ultimate say in things.
Your personal stance on drugs, at least how it’s been presented through the media, would appear at odds with the content. How would you best sum up your present stance on marijuana use?
I personally choose not to use marijuana or drugs as a whole. It's a plant and it's beyond ridiculous that people have somehow decided making it illegal was the right thing. The end result is generally users going to jail who cause society no harm. But those are two different issues. Everyone has to make the right choices for themselves in life. I think life is great enough not to necessitate altering your mindset and I've never seen drugs lead people anywhere good in life.
That being said I don't really see marijuana as a drug. Nobody has ever died from using marijuana and more people today die of prescription drugs than drugs on the street.
And is this the motivation for optioning the book?
The motivation was simply it being an interesting story politically and personally. And with Peter living on the east coast [of Australia] not in contact with many people back in California and me knowing a lot of people in LA, I thought we could connect some dots and network a good thing together. In the recent change of mindset around marijuana in a legal sense, it seemed like the timing was right to create the interest with the right people. This can be as much an educational and travel piece as anything.
At present there are two projects evolving out of Thai Stick, Kelly and his team working on the aforementioned television series, and a seperate documentary series that's currently in production. Two projects? Yeah, the book is that good.
Peter Maguire and his co-author Mike Ritter have begun work on an episodic companion documentary. They have more than 1,000 hours of taped interviews from smugglers, DEA, CIA, Thai police, Thai smugglers, Khmer Rouge and many others.
While Maguire and Ritter were doing the Hollywood rounds they were approached by two young documentary film makers, Jeff Miller and Kevin Klauber. Miller and Klauber made "King Corn" and "20 Feet From Stardom", two docos that impressed Maguire and Ritter. The Thai Stick authors figured they were the right guys for the job. The documentaries will cover the years 1968-1983.
What stage is the documentary project up to?
Peter Maguire: Miller and Klauber have done preliminary interviews, met many of our sources and most important, earned their trust. We will start shooting soon but are securing a large enough budget to do this right once. This story is personally, very import to both Mike, myself, and our sources. Given that we began interviewing people more than 15 years ago many people who helped us greatly are now dead. We have also been touched by the many ageing surfer smugglers who have come out of the woodwork to embrace our book. One major smuggler showed up at a book signing in California. He spent 14 years in both Thai and American prisons, and although he did not want to be interviewed he came to shake our hands and tell us that he thought the book was fair and accurate. Although we respectfully disagree on the dangers of marijuana, the retired DEA agents we interviewed also thought the book was fair and concede that compared to meth and cocaine, the Thai marijuana trade looks positively innocent.
It’s a complex story. Will it document all the threads followed in the book or just the mainland smuggling operations?
There will be a great deal about South-east Asia, Bali, and North-west Australia. The original trade is Thailand to Bali to North-west Australia—a milk run compared to Thailand to California. You can’t tell this story without talking about the Vietnam War and its impact on a generation of Americans.
Marijuana legalisation is an emotional touch point in the US right now, has that effected how the story might be told?
Not at all.
What’s your thoughts on the marijuana legalisation issue?
The renewed war on pot proved to be yet another pyrrhic victory in the war on drugs. Although the US government shut down the Thai marijuana trade, what did they actually win? There was no reduction in either the supply of or the demand for marijuana; in fact, quite the opposite. By the mid-1980s, marijuana was the number one cash crop in the United States thanks to huge demand and an artificially high price. As everyone from economist Adam Smith to the Thai politicians who were pressed by the US government to crack down on pot have pointed out, political laws will always be less powerful than the economic law of supply and demand. Adam Smith was rolling in his grave; there is absolutely nothing conservative about legislating morality.
Not only did the price of this easily cultivated weed go through the roof, while law enforcement was playing cat and mouse games with non-violent pot growers, America was flooded with cocaine and its evil twin, crack.
American law enforcement is basically in the same place the US military was in Vietnam during the early 1970s. They have conceded defeat in the war on pot and they are now looking for a face-saving way out. However, there is none as it was a massive waste of time and resources. Today pot is basically legal in California and the marijuana industry is growing more quickly than even the tech sector. I have no problem with the DEA as they are foot soldiers following orders. The real problems are our spineless politicians, America is drowning in contradictions and some of the worst ones stem from the War on Drugs – whether it is the pot-smoking president who refuses to take a decisive position on legalisation, or the coke-sniffing Republican who cries “rehab” when busted.
Irrespective of the fact that today America is led by a president who was once a habitual pot smoker, his DEA head administrator refused to admit that heroin and methamphetamines were worse for a user’s health than marijuana. If a teenage, black crack dealer gets caught with a hand full of rocks, he will almost certainly do hard time in a state prison, but when banks like Wachovia are caught red handed laundering the Mexican cocaine cartel’s blood-stained millions, if not billions, as they were in 2008, they simply pay a fine – less than 3.0 percent of their annual profit. Today America has the largest prison population in the world and the nation is more drug-addled than ever. America has lost the War on Drugs. Today, by far the most drug-related deaths, more than heroin and crack combined, are a result of synthetic opiate abuse. Yet when an outspoken War on Drugs advocate like Rush Limbaugh is caught with 2000 synthetic opiate pills prescribed by four different doctors in less than six months, the contradiction is lost on America’s numb body politic.
The worst blowback effect of law enforcement’s successful efforts against marijuana is that, in places they were most successful, Hawaii and Thailand, marijuana got so expensive that users simply replaced it with far more destructive smokable methaphetamine. With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, Americans consume 80 percent of the world’s opioids and 99 percent of the hydrocodone [the opiate in Vicodin].
Disclaimer: Peter Maguire's views on marijuana legalisation are his own and not necessarily shared with other people working on the project or with Swellnet.
'Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade' is published by Columbia University Press. Visit the website.
Great interview on subject matter that we can all relate to in some way.
I reckon Kelly is on his way to becoming surfings first billionaire. He's no dummy.
Another famous US citizen has also been thinking about drugs.
Cheers BB, I enjoyed that too.
Maybe the tide is turning and people are starting to realise that a different approach is needed.
Another famous blogger has also been writing about drugs.
Peter's views may not be shared by everyone but it is pretty hard to mount a serious argument against them. The problem with legalisation is that it will probably ultimately occur as a trade off with the tobacco industry. The crossover point between the regulation of tobacco and the deregulation of pot is rapidly approaching. So we can have many more generations dying prematurely of the various cancers that, research will prove, pot is just as capable of generating as tobacco.
But that's assuming many more people take it up cos it's legalised. Would that necessarily be the case?
I don't know how that would play out Stu. I tend to think that more people would use it but even if the percentage stayed the same there would still be the on going toll which is already happening amongst the heavy pot smokers of my generation. In individual cases it might be difficult to point the finger at pot but the cancer rate amongst my aquaintances correlates pretty well with their level of pot smoking. Add to that the identification of multiple carcinogens in pot smoke, even before it is mixed with tobacco, and you have a good case for a significant contribution to the cancer rate.
Thanks for that BB.
I smoked a lot in my early years, straight bush grown.
Ended up in OZ where it was the norm to mix tobacco as well as all the chemically grown hydroponic pot.
Gave up weed and started smoking tobacco for awhile:(
No tobacco for 6 months, vaping nicotine...!
The vices some of us put ourselves through?
Welly I smoked a lot of pot at various stages so I still have a risk but it is worth remembering that at any stage prior to the cancer occurring, stopping reduces the risk. Great link there too!
Cancer rate has as much to do with pot as it does with asbestos in clutches,brakes mobile phones, sunscreen, abc towers,remote controls,roundup,tomato sauce and sex..gimme a break
Ahhh no. Completely wrong.
I have to admit, after going to the states last year I'm never going back. Great article which makes way too much sense for Politicians to ever do anything about. I agree with Zen, I think Mr Slater is moving on to greener pastures.
'Grow More Pot' spoken word by Jello Biafra. If you haven't heard this it's well worth your time. Biafra details how pot became outlawed in the US at the behest of corporations such as DuPont who were manufacturing chemical rivals to natural hemp products. Some amazing facts uncovered.
If you've not read this book, it's quite the page turner and goes into great detail the history of hemp cultivation, it's uses both commercially and recreationally and it's subsequent outlawing. I read it years ago as a way of justifying my love of punching cones pre-surf.
Nowadays, sugar is the monkey on my back. Try getting off that stuff.
I'd say most of us older blokes probably had a scoob or two on a saturday night back in the day..... For some of us it was a weekend or party thing... For others, it became an all encompassing "lifestyle"..... I have mates in their late 40s who get all antsy if they don't have breakfast bongs.......
The thing that gets me these days is the police drug driving tests... Now, it's been a heck of a long time since I rolled a spliff and kicked back sinking a few corona chasers, but I'm sure I was ok to drive the following morning after a solid 11 hour coma sleep... But apparently pot stay in the system for a couple of days, and can be picked up in a police drug test 48 hours later.... Dunno if thats true, perhaps someone can enlighten me....
If it is true, I find it a bit rich that someone could smoke a joint on say friday night, be totally drug free all saturday and sunday morning, but get busted for "drug driving" on sunday arvo....
My understanding is that in NSW if you get pulled over randomly or for a minor offence they will give you an oral test. This will only detect pot for a matter of hours. A urine test will detect it for probably several days but this is unlikely to be used unless there is an accident causing serious injury.
NSW oral roadside test, fail the test and youre walking......licence suspended on the spot.
Well that's fair enough, udo.... If it is as BB says, and the test can pick up thc only over the last 4 hours, then just wait 4 hours..... Plus you can get pretty bent with a .04 blood alcohol level and a bud scoob.....
As long as people aren't getting nailed for drug driving when they smoked it the day before.... That's the only issue I have.... I haven't seen any literature on who makes the test kit.... If I still had the occasional cone, I'd probably look into it....
Pretty sure you can get nabbed well over 24hrs after a puff......
Well if that is true, udo, then it is not acceptable.... Then it's not really about drug driving... It's about revenue raising, and using "drug driving" as an excuse to test people for cannabis... I have no problem if the test has a timeframe of say 6 hours...... But 24hours is plain wrong..... Fair enough for ice, which i believe can have people beaming for days....
Definitely if they do blood or urine samples, though it is hard to imagine that people would be charged for trace amounts. Not much data out there on the time for the oral samples and it could depend on a whole range of variables. This site says four hours
Bottom line is if in doubt, don't drive.
Funny about the timing of this article! It's getting close to harvest!
"Kuranda gold"..... ;)
You have to be kidding wellymon and blindboy,
Please re click your link and actually read the information this site provides you, you may start to see (only if you open that trained mind) that they have no idea if it's linked to cancer, mentions quiet a few times that it 'May' but not sure increase your chances if mixed with alcohol or Tabacco, two things that are readily available at your local shop, Read the section thoroughly cannabis and cancer connections, your way of think is the problem, all people should have the right to alter the 'own' cosciousness that's liberty, just like you would eat food that has certain links to cancer, if some one smokes weed and fucks up they deal with the legal system that's in place, if some one smokes weed, drinks alcohol, smokes Tabacco and doesn't harm any one let them to that, I actually laugh this link to a site that originally warms you about cannabis and cancer states three times that's it might actually help??
This link provides reliable information about cannabis and cancer. In short;
- cannabis smoke contains many of the same carcinogens as tobacco smoke
- epidemiological studies are inconclusive as it is difficult to establish a cohort that has only smoked cannabis
- there is no substantial evidence that cannabis has any value as a cancer treatment
Believe what you like Jim, but if you want any one else to believe it you need to provide some evidence. Sadly in this case, don't bother looking too hard, it doesn't exist.
Haha Jimbo, I'm not kidding anyone at all, like you I read it as well;)
I never said anything, just read the link and put it up lol's. hehe
"your way of think is the problem, all people should have the right to alter the 'own' cosciousness that's liberty"
Thats funny as well read my avatar note.
Perhaps better off smoking mull when looking than all the poor cunts getting on ice. A whole generation of groms who think ice is a "recreational drug" shit what a fucked situation. Saw heaps of it in Hawaii years ago, losers and homeless in no time, brain dead, teeth fall out, stealing, freaking out and ending up locked up in a very short timeframe and then over the last 5 yrs or so it hits us here in Aus BIGTIME and tarted up as a party drug???Meanwhile someone can spend many years punching cones or smoking doobies and still maintain a reasonably normal lifestyle although the health effects are questionable .Maybe Kelly is just coming out of the smoke filled closet Spicolli style.
Onya Baldy , good read, should be a good movie , about time the pot rot stopped . Make it legal everywhere and crush the ice trade. We made dope illegal cause the U.S. told us to, now it's legal there I wish we'd do the same .
spot on mate
Sorry blindboy but I doubt your the one person that holds all the key evidence, the fact that they try so hard to find this evidence and come up with nothing just seems to me and many other people with an open mind that the link between marijuana and cancer is so weak that if there is a connection it's wouldn't touch half the things that you do in your everyday life! I'm sure your a surfer? Spend a lot of time in the sun? The suns natural right? One of the leading causes of cancer in Australia, ( hard evidence for this) no one needs some government funded site to tell you this, so do you need some one to tell you that it's illegal to surf in the sun in a recreational activity? Sounds ridiculous right? Just like this argument based in no hard evidence, ten years from now you will be apart of a group who say, "shit that was a waste of time" if your not already dead from eating cheese burgers and posting on online sites with sunburnt skin peeping of ya shnoze! But hey who am I to tell you what to do? Who is any one in that sense! I think it's important to weigh up the pros and cons, so just chill out have a beer but not to many eh!
Well Jim the pros and cons have been weighed up and guess what........you're wrong. I put up data from the American Cancer Council (Yeh yeh, what would they know?). What have you got except an opinion? Legal, illegal, natural, unnatural make no difference when it comes to cancer.
So there it is. Fact you can't patent THC, the medical mj bill is being positively discussed in the upper teirs with the TGA possibly allowing their standard submission of 250 k(aus) A
Have a bong ahaahaa yeew
Anyways, cancer or not, legal, illegal, bongs, joints,cones or the Mary Jane?
This book or TV series must have something to with the main players from "Sea of Darkness" the Doco.....???
You my friend are a troubled man, this coming from the man who has a big enough problem with people enjoying the odd long board, gee man you know stress can cause medical problems, CALM DOWN BRO. Life's sweet, have a joint and hang ten on ya Malibu you clown!
You were wrong get over it!
I think you have the wrong person Jimpostcode.
You're also being a little rude don't you think!
if u are a badman it is morally/ethically wrong to write about it.......
if u are self proclaimed goodman(do not condone drug use)it is morally/ethically wrong to cash in on it..
time to go listen to SOBERPHOBIA take me coffee n do some pre surf breathing exercise
The American cancer council also says there is no proven link between marijuana smoking and cancer. As to the council being the definitive authority on this issue, thats debatable. Not condoning drug use at all, but in my opinion and blind freddys, cigarettes and alcohol, drugs approved by our government , cause by far the most problems and deaths.
And as mikehunt207 mentioned ice use in Australia is escalating.
Blind boy, from your link;
"An in-depth investigation into the medical use of marijuana was authorized by the US Government in 1997."
"First, it found that scientific data indicate that cannabinoids, particularly THC, have some potential to relieve pain, control nausea and vomiting, and stimulate appetite."
BB, being an "in - depth" investigation, I'd say that it puts the comment "there is no substantial evidence that cannabis has any value as a cancer treatment" in doubt..... One of the main problems chemo patients face is keeping up nutrition as they battle pain, nausea, and appetite loss..... One can only assume that if cannabinoids have the potential to help in these area's, then cannabis may aid cancer treatment.....
But obviously more studies need to be done, and I think allowing terminal patients to sign up for these studies is the logical thing to do.....
R.I.P to this brave guy.... Remember seeing a doco on him.... Using thc gave him the munchies during chemo, which gave him a couple of extra years with the ones he loved, and those who loved him...
What do you have to say chump
fuck smoking it, make cookies, no smoke and full body stone calmness/pain relief. BUt it's the whole plant that needs to be talked about HEMP- can be used to build things, make oils, use as rope, clothing and more, so much more- three crops a year, needs only sun and water and could be used for paper. cardboard etc etc, planted in acidic soils, its sucks up acid, then you can plant legumes and plough nitrogen back into the ground. THe focus should be on Hemp. IF HEMP was re introduced as a plant, it would help so many third world nations plus help economies like ours and save the trees that we need to breathe- it is better to breathe oxygen than bong smoke so we have to educate people and make HEMP the important aspect and if you want to use it to change your awareness level, make cookies out of it, dont smoke the shit and for gods sake dont forget about all the useful qualities of the whole plant.
Good call DTR both hemp and bamboo seem to me to be the most sustainable crops ever. The amount of Products that can be made from them is enormous . Substituting for synthetics (in many ways) they can grow almost anywhere at very fast rates. Certainly better than cutting down native habitat and growing water hungry cottom. Both perfectly natural and capable of "saving the planet a little " with their own usefulness.
So who is resisting that happening by putting barriers in place?????
To me both are good solutions to many problems.
My ex was secretary for NORMAL for years and will be dancing in her grave at the changed attitudes now coming into society. The end of my dope smoking years I was making tea and drinking it, if she didn't find my stash and smoke it first ;)
When I stopped smoking my thyroid went dangerously overactive, no proof, but I feel the pot was keeping it in check.
A message from Sargent Stadanko " And uh, remember, ONLY DOPES USE DOPE! "
Jimbo you seem to be confusing a couple of issues, prohibition and health issues, they have nothing to do with each other. Put smoke in your lungs, doesn't matter the source and you risk lung disease, could be cancer could be a number of other things, your lungs will also sustain damage which with heavy use will not repair. The more smoke you pump in the worse the damage and the higher the likelyhood of disease, your kidding yourself to think otherwise.
Prohibition - the government couldn't give two shits if you give yourself cancer, that has nothing to do with the legality of pot in Australia, learn some history, a good start is the video that stu posted, follow this with a study of drug prohibition.
With you all the way davo, exciting to see the trials in place and comercial cropping in aus is now underway, biggest crop in aus is up in the hunter and already producing for hemp crete and other products. Interesting side note on the hemp issue is the main opposition to trials in Tassie are the opium growers, they don't want the area to be associated with drug growing, fuckn figure that one out???
BB re-cancer rates and cannibus legalization, an interesting development in the legal/medicinal pot scene in the states is the rapidly growing industry of smoke alternatives not only vaping but various other forms of 'edibles' a whole industry has developed not just the old style cookies and brownies but highly refined forms or near pure cannabinoids in various forms like oils, powders, waxes etc which do away with smoking. This has only really happened since legalisations and illustrates how beneficial innovation with the use of various illegal drugs can only happen once prohibition is scrapped.
How do you get the first and only license to grow marijuana commercially in Australia? If youre a former member of the liberal party pretty easily apparently.....http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/may/20/australias-norfolk-island...