PHUKET, Thailand (Reuters) - With nimble fingers and years of practice, Ativat Janmuangthai beat other cannabis enthusiasts to roll a perfect, one-gramme joint in 43 seconds on Saturday, becoming the fastest joint-roller in Thailand's Phuket.
"He's been rolling joints for five years, he can even roll joints blindfolded. He's very fast," said Saksorn Sotornkittirat, friend of Ativat who accompanied him at the first Phuket Cannabis Cup competition.
Apart from the title and trophy, the winner, in his 30s, was also awarded a cash prize of 5,000 baht ($146.37).
The contest was part of an inaugural event where enthusiasts and experts could gather and exchange opinions and knowledge with the aim of helping set a standard for Thailand's fledgling cannabis industry.
An international panel of judges was also invited to evaluate various cannabis strains, taking into consideration elements, such as appearance, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels, terpenes, flavour and genetic profiles.
Thailand became the first Southeast Asian country to decriminalise cannabis last year, but within a week of the move issued a raft of rushed piecemeal regulations to curb its potential unchecked use, including by children.
Last month, the parliament failed to endorse a cannabis draft bill before an election, set for May 14, leaving Thailand without an umbrella law to regulate the use of the substance.
Cannabis advocates in Phuket recently formed the Phuket Cannabis Association to create a stronger voice for the industry, with over 1,000 licensed dispensaries now on the island.
Poonwarit Wangpatravanich, the group president, hopes laws to regulate cannabis use will be hastened after the election.
"Imagine what's going to happen if people fly right to Thailand just because of that (cannabis use). We're going to increase such a large amount of GDP in tourism for the whole (of) Thailand," he said.
"The government should be very, very happy!".
($1 = 34.16 baht)
(Writing by Juarawee Kittisilpa; Editing by Michael Perry)