Encounter with Marijuana in China

Although marijuana has long been used as a medicine and in fabrics in China, it is not widely used as an intoxication drug. Many Chinese only have a vague idea of its effects and believe it is detrimentally addictive as it is as illegal as heroin under Chinese law. But many foreigners don’t think so. They use marijuana as entertainment and they are trilled when they find it in unlikely places in China.

Big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai Shenzhen and Guangzhou are reported to have easy access to. In Beijing, Sanlitun where bars and clubs clustered and  is frequented by foreigners is said to be the promised land. Specific instructions from a foreigner on a travel forum go like this, “In Beijing it is very easy to buy hash and pot is also available from time to time. If you don't know anyone, the best thing to do is to go to the Sanlitun bar area, either the bar street itself or to the area in front of the KFC west of Sanlitun Bar Street, opposite the City Hotel. Most of the merchants are West African guys who hang around that area. Another recomended area is the bar street in "nu ren jie", readers found this area helpful in scoring both hash and pot!!”.

And also :"In Sanlitun go to the restaurant floor of the ya show market and look for the loitering African guys or go to the mix club and look for the African guys "

And :"now because of the Olympics police is cleaning up the Sanlitun bar area and hash is becoming hard to find so your best chance is head to this little store across the street next to a newpaper stand who sells papers bongs etc.. and just say hash or da maa. and he might have some. if that doesn’t work go to the mix club at night and look for African merchants and always deal with the guy."

A report from a foreigner hanging out in Sanlitun suggests that prices of marijuana in Beijing are around 25$ for 1.5-2 grams and “people are nice and better deals can be made”.

A foreigner embarking on his marijuana hunting trip commented: “Probably one of the most easiest things to do in Beijing other than by fake DVDs. Although sometimes difficult to trust, the dealers are usually quite friendly and hang around the main hot spots of Beijing… The better contacts can be found through phone numbers. Make pot smoking friends!”

The forum also gives tips on brands: “Hash is the drug of choice here in Beijing and the rare Weed which is found is not worth the high prices. If someone offers you weed I would advise to reject.” And: “Most of the things you\'ll get is Nepalese or produced somewhere in China. The E is imported from Hong Kong and the dealers often bring a couple hundred pills with them when they come from somewhere (ie. 100x pills from New York) so the market is quite saturated with good quality E but the hash and weed is hard to pin down.”

People who want to find marijuana in other big cities can also find very detailed guidance on this forum. But surprisingly, there are some foreigners speaking about their encounter with marijuana in less developed areas such as Xinjiang, Tibet and Yunnan. A foreign traveler who traveled trough Dali and Shangri-La in Yunnan Province says “To my great surprise, marijuana was EVERYWHERE down there.  I was told by the folks in the Tibetan medicine shops that pot has been used as medicine in Tibet, Yunnan and the whole region for thousands of years. The medicine shops had it under the counter for special customers. They said it was widespread and accepted until Mao. Even today, you see folks on the streets smoking their bongs and you see pot sold in the countryside markets. They smoke it, eat it and brew a tea. It's growing everywhere in the foothills and mountains…They also make a black paste from the pot (we'd call it hashish) and mix it with the tobacco. Those folks were the Bai minority from Dali I understand…A friend told me Dali is known as the Amsterdam of China. I totally understand why.”

As a matter of fact, Beijing and Yunnan have different backgrounds for spread of marijuana. Big cities such as Beijing are mostly inhabited by the majority ethnic group of China (Han), who rarely use marijuana as drugs traditionally. These cities see a growth of marijuana use only as a result of China’s increasing exposure to the Western drug culture. While some minority ethnic groups, such as Bai minority mentioned above, who live in Yunnan, have a long tradition of smoking marijuana and were forced to give up their use of marijuana, not completely, under the communist government. Therefore places such as Dali (in Yunnan) have more cultural tolerance towards marijuana. And Dali as a tourism spot is packed with bars and clubs catering to foreign travelers, with easy access to marijuana. But unfortunately for foreign visitors, as China has realized this problem and is more active in cracking down widespread marijuana in Dali, perhaps it will less easy and more risky to have a romantic encounter with marijuana.