After a recent report from Vice detailed the sometimes harrowing experiences of individuals aiming to get stoned in China– both citizens and expats– the fact of the matter has become a little clearer, and a lot more odd.
Instances detailing traffic stops and raids on clubs described dual-standards for nationals and foreigners, where Chinese are tied up and arrested and the others are reprimanded. Faux-urine testing–where an officer simply holds a container of urine up to the light to make their determination– can see people carted away to a “black site” prison where, apparently, individuals undergo strange medical experimentation.
But despite these heavily-enforced conservative laws and practices, there too must be an underground, yes? A veritable community of stoners and weedheads who are bucking regulation and forging a bond like the strongest of hemp fibers? Ask most in the know and the answer is Sanlitun.
Beijing’s party district, a neon dayglow Vegas strip of sorts for the foreigners, boasting a mega Starbucks and all the trappings of tourist attracting Bourbon Street, with a lot less the alcohol content. Sanlitun is apparently where most of if any the weedier-types can find some form of cannabis. But it won’t be on any kind of par with anything you’d care for.
Others might steer you the way of the Uyghurs. A minority community of Muslims about ten million strong living in the Xinjiang region of China since sometime around the 17th century.
One account recalls buying weed off a Uyghur in Shanghai, but for steep prices and again, some pretty dirt shwag. And since riots in 2009 known as the Xinjiang Chaos– where protests escalated into violent crimes between Han and Ugyhur people and police and armed forces, death tolls surely reaching above the confirmed 197 reported– the Xinjiang hasn’t been as much of a haven as some would make out.
For the most part, the smoking being done is foreign influenced and foreign puffed. The Chinese Mainlanders and other nationals that are getting down, cite Western culture as their thrust into the cyph. Along with them we hear of the expats in the party regions trying to dust shwag off of diplomats, and the whole scene starts to feel like Harmony Korrine in the east.
What’s apparent is the same in most all places– people somewhere are looking, and somewhere they’ll find it. Some version or another of what they’re looking for. Chinese law is strict and will remain so, for sure. But those stoners will keep smoking in the pockets and the hills.