Highland: Thailand's weed battle comes to the global stage

By Manny C.
Netflix's new mini-series travels to Thailand where viewers are introduced to the battle to legalize cannabis, and much more.

At this point in our society, it’s can be ard to find someone around you that doesn’t watch some kind of streaming service. And when it comes to streaming content there are fewer that can beat Netflix, we pretty much all have it, access to it, know of it, or know someone who subscribes and watches regularly. In fact, in many households, like my own even, streaming services are the norm and we don’t use cable or local television. All of these frequent subscribers and regular viewers means that Netflix is not only popular, but can be quite controversial. Earlier this year, Netflix rocked with the boat with 13 Reasons Why and Dear White People, but flying under the radar for now is a small new docu-series about cannabis. While every once in awhile Netflix will host a few movies here or there about like Halloweed, Super High Me, or Culture High, which makes seeing a new one pop up feel more like a special treat than just monthly uploads. As cannabis goes mainstream there’s a lot of new information and voices hitting the cannabis world, but there’s something unique about this new mini-series, Highland.

Local cultivation
Traditional curing in Laos of local cannabis plants.


Highland opens the journey into Thailand’s cannabis scene with episode one focusing heavily on some major points, and comparing the impacts of the United States War on Drug over the past 50 years in the south east Asian region where Thailand is located. As American attitudes become more hostile towards the cannabis industry and consumers, the U.S backed parts of the region saw increased penalties and capital punishment related to cannabis in the post-Vietnam war era.  The series goes on to draw on the history of cannabis production in various part of the region, it’s impact on local economies, and the changing landscape as a result of both the prohibition and modern activism.



Highland also introducers the world to, well… Highland! A grassroots movement and magazine founded in Thailand that explores the taboo topic of cannabis consumption. The founder tells the story of how he founded Highland as a group on facebook, hoping to spread awareness and education about the potential for weed to aid in treating cancer and related symptoms. He goes on to point out how close members of his own family have died from various types of cancer, and that various cancers have increasingly common in the poverty stricken area. Without enough income to pay for expensive medications and dangerous chemotherapy, many families are left without any treatment options at all beyond traditional herbal care, including cannabis. As the group grew and interest skyrocketed, the small online group grew into a full blown business, and now Highland is Thailand’s only cannabis centric magazine. 

Highland on Netflix
The fresh new mini-series bringing new conversation to a growing, global movement.

And all in just the first twenty minutes! I know I’ll be back to finish the rest of the mini-series, have you seen Highland yet? What cannabis related movies have you found on your streaming service?


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About the author: Manny C.

Cannabis Activist, industry blogger, and founding member of Illinois Citizens Responsible Regulation.