Photo: Stephanie T. Kleine-Ahlbrandt
In North Korea, illicit drug use usually results in a strict punishment. For example, in 2010 one source told NKRadio.org that the government had begun putting signs up saying ‘any drug users will face a firing squad should they be caught’ following outbreaks of meth-amphetamine usage in the country.However, that attitude reportedly doesn’t extend to all drugs — in particular, Marijuana is an accepted part of life in the country.
Benjamin R. Young has taken a look at the country’s relationship with marijuana for NKNews.org:
There is no taboo around pot smoking in the country – many North Koreans know the drug exists and have smoked it. In North Korea, the drug goes by the name of ip tambae or “leaf tobacco.” It is reported to be especially popular amongst young soldiers in the North Korean military – rather than getting hooked on tar & nicotine like their contemporaries in the West, they fraternize without fear of repercussion by lighting up king-sized doobies during down time on the military beat.
Despite the fact the government does not crackdown on the use of the marijuana (or opium) and its prevalence amongst the common people, all you groups of dreadlocked California hippies and Burning Man festival survivors hoping to book yourselves onto a spliff-sampling tour after reading this are likely to be disappointed. If a Western tourist asks his or her guide where is the best place to get the “special plant,” as it is euphemistically referred to, the guide will most likely eschew the question. They’re likely well enough educated in Western legal attitudes towards marijuana to not feel the need to promote anything that might draw any more negative press. Then again, bring them a bottle of Hennessy, and they might be more willing to help you out.
Young reports that the drug is readily available from the black market, and that marijuana sprouts wildly in many areas. Newspapers are used as rolling papers, with pictures of the Supreme Leader and his family carefully avoided.
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