Thailand to toughen rules on methamphetamine pill possession
BANGKOK, Feb 3 (Reuters) -Thailand is set to tighten rules on methamphetamine possession, labeling anyone caught carrying pills a drug distributor, in a move experts say could reverse narcotics reform by prioritising punishment over public health.
The changes follow Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's call for a crackdown on narcotics after a former policeman, who was discharged from duty for drug use, went on a knife and gun rampage last October, killing 37 people including 24 children. nL4N31D1PR
The Thai health ministry on Thursday issued a regulation to classify those found in possession of even one methamphetamine or "yaba" pill as drug dealers rather than users, meaning possession of small amounts could be subject to severe penalties including imprisonment.
Currently, drug dealersface a prison term of up to 15 years or between 2 and 20 years if found selling to minors. But those caught with smaller amounts could avoid prison in favour of rehabilitation or treatment.
Last year the health ministry proposed that only people in possession of more than 15 pills should be classified as dealers.
"The changes to the ministerial regulation is to address social problems in a definitive and effective way and to curb the spread of yaba pills," said Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.
He added law enforcement officials could continue to exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis. The latest regulation is pending cabinet approval.
Experts say the new approach risks reversing reforms introduced in 2021, when parliament passed a bill prioritising prevention and treatment over punishment for small-time drug users. The government said that legislation had resulted in reducing prison sentences for almost 50,000 prison inmates.
"If a one-tablet limit goes ahead, already overcrowded prisons will endlessly fill, there won't be any space to hold the people classified as dealers," said Jeremy Douglas, Southeast Asia and Pacific representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
"The country is flooded with meth, this is not the time to reverse drug reforms."
Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor
Disclaimer: The XM Group entities provide execution-only service and access to our Online Trading Facility, permitting a person to view and/or use the content available on or via the website, is not intended to change or expand on this, nor does it change or expand on this. Such access and use are always subject to: (i) Terms and Conditions; (ii) Risk Warnings; and (iii) Full Disclaimer. Such content is therefore provided as no more than general information. Particularly, please be aware that the contents of our Online Trading Facility are neither a solicitation, nor an offer to enter any transactions on the financial markets. Trading on any financial market involves a significant level of risk to your capital.
All material published on our Online Trading Facility is intended for educational/informational purposes only, and does not contain – nor should it be considered as containing – financial, investment tax or trading advice and recommendations; or a record of our trading prices; or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instruments; or unsolicited financial promotions to you.
Any third-party content, as well as content prepared by XM, such as: opinions, news, research, analyses, prices and other information or links to third-party sites contained on this website are provided on an “as-is” basis, as general market commentary, and do not constitute investment advice. To the extent that any content is construed as investment research, you must note and accept that the content was not intended to and has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such, it would be considered as marketing communication under the relevant laws and regulations. Please ensure that you have read and understood our Notification on Non-Independent Investment. Research and Risk Warning concerning the foregoing information, which can be accessed here.