The Kingdom of Thailand’s strict stance on illicit drugs is world-famous, but this week the Justice Ministry came out in favor of giving up the current, unsuccessful approach to fighting the war on drugs and instead focusing on more health-oriented policies.
Justice Minister Paiboon Kumchaya told reporters this week that the nationwide problem of methamphetamine use had not been won during its already 28-year campaign. More people than ever are hooked on the drug, he said.
Paiboon said the Justice Minsitry was in the process of consulting relevant agencies about removing methamphetamines — known colloquially as “ya ba” [crazy drug] or “easy” — from the list of narcotic drugs and treating it instead as a normal drug, which would make it easier for Thais to seek health treatment and rehabilitation.
The minister also mentioned that other nations had been changing their drug policy in similar ways in recent years because they could not win a war on drugs by treating use as a crime.
Paiboon proposed an analogy in which an incurably diseased person tries to find a way to live more happily with their disease. In such a case, the person seeks the help of health professionals in addressing the problem.
He also mentioned that Thai society accepts cigarettes and alcohol, although both are arguably more hazardous to health than methamphetamines.