M ARIJUANA, openly available at many Phnom Penh markets, is slowly being pushed
under the counter as the police vow to crack down on the drug.
the authorities are apparently still turning a blind eye to small-time use of
A marijuana seller in Toul Tom Poung (Russian) market told the
Post that she had recently been warned by the police not to sell "much"
They had told her she should only have a few kilograms of the
drug available for sale to Khmers who use it to flavor foods such as
A few days later, a man she knew was a policeman but dressed in
plain clothes visited her to ask for 10 kilograms of
Suspecting a trap, she told him she only had three kilograms.
He was insistent on getting 10 kilograms, but after she repeated that she could
not help him, he left empty-handed.
The vendor said marijuana was a big
hit with foreigners, particularly Westerners who were her best
"Sometimes they smoke it right away here after they buy
Khmers occasionally bought the drug for food flavoring, she said,
adding: "Even cooks in restaurants come to buy it to add to their noodle
The vendor said she was now stocking only small quantities of the
drug, and would be more careful about selling it.
Most of the marijuana
on sale in Phnom Penh - for about 10,000 riel ($4) a kilogram - was not imported
to Cambodia but was grown in regions alongside the Mekong River, she
Phnom Penh police's anti-drug department, in a rare move, has
seized about one tonne of the drug from city market places in the past two
months. No vendors were arrested.
Department chief Heng Poev said the
drug cache had been handed over to the Ministry of National Security for
He said the police raids on markets were part of a new
offensive against the supply of addictive drugs including marijuana which he
said could seriously affect people's nervous systems.
He refused to
reveal what further measures were planned, saying: "I have been ordered by my
superior not to tell journalists."
But, contrary to many foreigners'
belief that marijuana is not illegal on Cambodia, he said UNTAC law could be
used against importers and users of the drug.
Poev said UNTAC law
provided for jail terms of between 5 and 15 years for smuggling addictive drugs
into or out of Cambodia, and one month to a year for users of them.
law is apparently unclear on whether possession or growing of marijuana are also
Police and customs officials recently attended an anti-drug
smuggling course conducted by United States customs officers.