But such photo ops to name and shame mostly small-fry mules and consumers – of meth, kratom and cannabis, in that order of frequency – do little if anything to curb the drug problem. And yet still active on our website are the “hang ‘em high” lot, who believe that strict suppression policies are key to tackling the drug epidemic.
Needless to say, Thai prisons are overcrowded with drug offenders, and though “rehabilitation” centres continue to receive a limitless supply of patients, drug use and related arrests aren’t on the decline.
So it should come as a little surprise that a majority of respondents to a recent poll by The Phuket News think that the “War on Drugs” needs to be re-evaluated.
Anti-drug prohibition sentiment is gaining ground across the globe. A benchmark is Portugal, who decriminalised all types of drugs in 2001, and has since recorded a decline in overall drug use, related deaths and drug-related disease transmission rates.
Cannabis legislation has been at the forefront of international drug policy transformation. Aside from it being a powerful cash crop and medicinal plant, various studies have found that cannabis use doesn’t contribute to greater societal drug problems as once feared, and that most consumers of the plant’s flower, which had long been fallaciously labelled a “gateway drug”, never go on to experiment with hard drugs.
In 2013, the US states of Colorado and Washington, and the country of Uruguay, were the first to completely legalise, regulate and tax the herb, and as the economic, medicinal and social benefits became clear, the US states of Oregon and Alaska soon followed.
The prohibition dominoes continue to topple worldwide, with reverse policies recently announced by the likes of the Durham Police in England, the Australian Health Ministry and the newly elected Canadian PM.
Other strong movements have gained momentum in the Netherlands, Spain, Argentina, Ecuador, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Jamaica and India.
Though still years behind the pack, Thai academics and elites have begun to take notice, and it’s only inevitable that common sense, if not plain economics, will eventually invoke needed changes.