For a country that has produced and used cannabis for thousands of years, it’s surprisingly hard to find high-quality cannabis in Sri Lanka. During my stay, I hunted down weed from various sources on several occasions—with mixed results.
I paid anything from five hundred to three thousand rupees for the same quantity (about 0.7g) of brown, seeded cannabis from three local “street” dealers. Much of the time, the price seemed to vary depending to how many tuk-tuk drivers needed to go pick it up!
The cannabis I first got ahold of was locally known as Kerala Ganja (or just “KG”), and is stated to be from the eponymous southern Indian state. It’s not clear whether it actually does come from Kerala—presumably some or most does, as there’s a known export market from India to Sri Lanka, but it’s also possible that some of what is sold as KG is locally grown.
From its tiny seeds and racy, cerebral effect, KG is clearly of a “tropical sativa” strain. However, it’s worth noting that some of the effects could, in fact, arise from a cocktail of potentially toxic chemicals that are reportedly sprayed onto the weed prior to sale! I was unfortunately not informed of this possibility until I’d smoked a few grams of the stuff.
“We’re working on taking care of the smoker’s health side of the story, by holding awareness and self-care projects, and by creating body cleansing juices, herbal toothpaste formulations and a whole lot more.”
There doesn’t seem to be any scientific data regarding potential toxicity, and I didn’t retain any traces that could be tested. But in general, given the risk, it’s certainly better to try and find a trustworthy local source in Sri Lanka if you’re looking to obtain cannabis, and avoid KG like the plague.
That’s where having good friends like the guys at the Ceylonese Smoking Culture can serve you well. They are not suppliers of cannabis, but if you happen to have one of the crew with you while you hunt down something local, they will happily let you know if what you’re buying looks sketchy or is unreasonably priced.
The Ceylonese Smoking Culture is a unique concept. Devised by marketing whiz kid Viocean Fernando, it is simultaneously a club, community and company devoted to promoting and safeguarding the cannabis culture of the island. They currently offer an online space for cannabis enthusiasts to get together and discuss cannabis culture in Sri Lanka, as well as a range of Sri Lankan-made smoking products and accessories.
Fernando tells me: “We’re working on taking care of the smoker’s health side of the story, by holding awareness and self-care projects, and by creating body cleansing juices, herbal toothpaste formulations and a whole lot more.” I met Fernando on my last day on the island, a fact I bitterly regretted once I saw the quality of his herb (and his high-grade Moroccan hash—certainly a luxury on this remote South Asian island)!
Fernando confirms that good quality cannabis and hashish can be easily found here, although it is relatively expensive. A tola (ten grams) of Indian charas should cost around twelve to fifteen thousand rupees ($80-100), while a tola of local cannabis from a good source should cost around four thousand rupees (about $26). Special cannabis strains like Kush, which is grown from seed brought from India, may cost four thousand rupees for just one gram.
Of course, these high prices are largely a result of prohibition. “As an entrepreneur, I see a lot of benefits our country could gain through opening proper channels to cultivate the plant,” Fernando muses. “I believe that it will contribute towards our country’s economic development targets to a massive extent.”
Over a delicious lunch of ferociously spicy crayfish tails and a mercifully cold beer at a beachside hut in Mount Lavinia, he tells me of his plans to put Sri Lanka on the world map of cannabis culture. Via his side company, The Art Of Chilling, he intends to offer custom package tours for smokers, which will include scuba diving, surfing, safaris, Ayurvedic massages, beach parties and a whole lot more—as well as visits to local farms and smoking hotspots.
“Tours are tailor-made, and serendipity encounters are guaranteed!” Fernando informs me. “Through The Art of Chilling concept, we have many bungalows and secret spots around Lanka that will treat our members with extra care. And if the time is right, visits to fields in Thanamalwila and other undisclosed locations will be provided as well.”
If you are a cannabis enthusiast thinking of heading to Sri Lanka for a holiday, it is highly advisable to get in touch with the guys from the Ceylonese Smoking Culture. They can recommend what to do, what not to do, and where to go—and without some reliable local information, you may very well find Sri Lanka’s smoking scene as impenetrable as the thick jungle that blankets the island.