Kelly Slater is making a documentary about 70s Marijuana Trade
Story by Jake Howard Kelly Slater hashtags #IDontSmoke. But, the 11-time world champ has just announced that he’s bought the film and TV rights for Peter Maguire and Mike Ritter’s book, Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the untold story of the Marijuana Trade. Well before California’s “Emerald Triangle” bloomed and easy access to prescription marijuana […]
Story by Jake Howard
Kelly Slater hashtags #IDontSmoke. But, the 11-time world champ has just announced that he’s bought the film and TV rights for Peter Maguire and Mike Ritter’s book, Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the untold story of the Marijuana Trade.
Well before California’s “Emerald Triangle” bloomed and easy access to prescription marijuana reigned in the Golden State, back in the hazy mid-70s, Thailand’s Chao Phya River and Bangkok served as a smuggler’s paradise. The ganja trade was wide open. Before it became an industry, Thailand was where all the good weed was coming from. But Maguire and Ritter not only partook; In 2013 they published a book about it.
And now as Kelly launches OuterKnown and seizes the reigns at Firewire, he’s getting into the documentary production biz, too.
Photo by Peter Maguire
“This is a history they certainly don’t teach you in school but an important and significant cultural phenomenon that occurred mostly undocumented,” says Kelly via Instagram. “It took the professional historian and former smuggler (Maguire and Ritter) 15 years to complete and it (Thai Stick) is based on thousands of hours of interviews. They document everything you didn’t know about pot smuggling from the late 60s thru early 80s, diving into every aspect of the game from personal to political. Even #TimothyLeary and #RichardNixon make cameos. As an innocent kid growing up in Florida, I knew nothing about this stuff but heard lots of stories about the surfing/smuggling connections related to people I knew. I was always intrigued hearing about the guys I considered to be #RealLifePirates. A lot of what I know now comes from the pages in this book and corroborates things I heard as a kid.”
That brings up a conversation I had yesterday with, for lack of a better term, a pot baron. Derek Peterson, a surfer originally from Massachusetts, migrated west to Dana Point, California; where Salt Creek is the go-to. As could happen to any one of us, Derek got pitched head first into the sandbar. He broke his neck and was nearly paralysed. Not wanting to get hooked on pharmaceutical painkillers like percocet or oxycodone, he took a “more natural way to deal with the pain and symptoms of my recovery.”
By trade he was a Wall Street wolf, working for financial firm Wachovia, until every economy exploded in 2008. It was then he learned that a friend was making serious loot running a medical marijuana dispensary in California. Derek shifted gears, founded Terra Tech, a company that’s now “established in the medical marijuana business and looking forward to the time when cannabis becomes recreationally legal,” as he explains.
(From: Thai Stick)
HighTimes.com describes Terra Tech as a “publicly traded agricultural company aggressively looking to enter the cannabis space.”
“The next 12 to 24 months are going to be interesting in the United States,” continues Peterson, referring to what’s being called the “Green Rush” in America. There are big-time players waiting on the sidelines with cash and business plans in hand ready to bounce on any advancement in legalisation of the drug.
“There’s both state and federal legislation that’s in the works that could really change the game,” he says. “It’s already been decriminalised in places like California, where there are communities where entire economies are dependent on cannabis growth, but the next steps are to make some legislative changes that are more realistic with the times. To get away from the whole ‘war on drugs’ mentality.”
So… has the whole world turned to the green? Maybe not totally. Maguire, an accomplished historian, professor at Colombia University and LA surfer, met Ritter while working on his book Facing Death in Cambodia, about the Khmer Rouge’s Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh. Along the way Ritter, a Santa Barbara native, eventually divulged that he’d begun smuggling hash from Afghanistan in ’68 before taking to moving Thai weed in the 70s. Ritter eventually spent some time incarcerated because of his illegal dealing. In Thai Stick the two document a compelling, untold story, mainly of surfers as smugglers.
But Peterson’s trying to change that: “Cannabis has a bad stereotype, and a lot of that’s associated with the counter culture and surfing. I’m hoping we can change that perception. Today there are doctors, lawyers and people from all walks of life that use cannabis for both recreational and medicinal purposes, and I think the way people view it has changed dramatically.”
Even though he don’t blaze, it’s funny to think that the newest name in any conversation about marijuana is the clean-cut, chia seed-eating Kelly Slater. He’s already started work on the documentary, so keep an eye out for the motion picture view of Thai Stick.
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