If anything, the community network strategy looks like nothing more than the decades-old ‘one village, one informant’ tactic under the initial, and deadly, Thaksin-empowered ‘War on Drugs’.
Worse, at that number of drug arrests on the island, the likelihood that a person you know, work with, live alongside, or even serving you in your hotel is using drugs starts climbing rapidly.
Phuket Vice Governor Supoj Na Nongkhai hit the nail on the head – and kudos to him for not shying away from the issue – is that dealers are now targeting the island as a key market, and targeting everyday people. Prices have been slashed to lure first-timers to try drugs purely for recreational use. The ploy is then to get them to shift the recreational use to regular.
The huge danger is that this is where drugs become a part of everyday life. Drugs become how young people party, hard-working people relax, and teens get their rebellious kicks.
Remember that even not in the middle of a drug buzz, addicts are still in the grip of dependence. If the user is starting to crave for their next hit – whether they know it or not – they start becoming more restless, irritable and discontent. Does that description match a driver that you saw recently on Phuket’s roads?
Testing for drugs is not as simple or cheap as testing for alcohol, but at the drug rates cited by the province’s anti-narcotics task force more people behind the wheel or on the motorbike are becoming more likely to be under the influence of drugs than alcohol. Only if the user is noticeably impaired will any officer know.
To this, every country in the world knows that law enforcement goes only so far in curtailing the spread of drug use. The true fight is societal. And in a country where huge masses of people will turn up for a bike ride just to join the fun and take up some exercise, surely we can do better in our fight against drugs than we are now.