Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - "Don't sell too much" ganja, police tell traders

"Don't sell too much" ganja, police tell traders

"Don't sell too much" ganja, police tell traders

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.

However,

the authorities are apparently still turning a blind eye to small-time use of

the drug.

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"

marijuana.

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

soups.

A few days later, a man she knew was a policeman but dressed in

plain clothes visited her to ask for 10 kilograms of

marijuana.

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

customers.

"Sometimes they smoke it right away here after they buy

it."

Khmers occasionally bought the drug for food flavoring, she said,

adding: "Even cooks in restaurants come to buy it to add to their noodle

soup."

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

said.

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

destruction.

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.

The

law is apparently unclear on whether possession or growing of marijuana are also

offenses.

Police and customs officials recently attended an anti-drug

smuggling course conducted by United States customs officers.

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