National drug policy: Time for a rethink

National drug policy: Time for a rethink

Young suspects caught in massive drug raid. Inset: Yaba or methamphetamine tablets in packets for delivery.
Young suspects caught in massive drug raid. Inset: Yaba or methamphetamine tablets in packets for delivery.

Despite massive drug seizures & wars on drugs, drug use continues to grow, the UN & medical doctors in-the-know say time for a rethink.


National drug policy: Time for a rethink


Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya caused a major uproar with a statement out of the blue about the country's leading drug problem.

The statement in question featured a proposal he presented at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on drugs, known as UNGASS, in New York to demote methamphetamines from Category 1, the official designation of the most harmful and banned drugs, to the far more tolerant category.

Like other controversial proposals in this country, this one on amphetamine -type stimulants (ATS) has drawn mixed reactions.

Some believe it will make the drug situation far worse, but others think the opposite.


Contrary to initial reactions, the proposal would not decriminalise or legalise meth and associated drugs.

Rather, it would take drug abusers and some petty corner peddlers out of the revolving street to prison to street system that does more to encourage drug trafficking than to prevent drug trafficking.

Measures that will credibly achieve this must be encouraged.

As Dr. Apinun Aramrattana of the Chiang Mai University Faculty of Medicine and colleagues argued in these pages yesterday (see here), drug prohibition has failed.

In Thailand, drug use has grown exponentially in the past decade and a half.

The Thaksin "war on drugs" which murdered 2,500 petty dealers and innocent bystanders was a human rights violation and a complete defeat of its purpose, to stamp out drug trafficking.


The UNGASS has been one of the major catalysts to spur global rethinking in battling drug abuse.

For many years, successive governments and the prime minister's Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) have promised reform, then reneged on that promise.

Law enforcement and prison have remained the key and usually the only means employed.

Depending on the expert consulted, this has either directly caused or helped promote drug production and consumption.

Last year, once again Thai authorities seized one billion ya ba tablets, while the number of drug users increased yet again.


In addition to the ya ba announcement, the minister had a second surprise.

He said the government has been working on an overhaul of overall drug policy.

He indicated it was almost ready to be revealed.

To that, one must say, "Congratulations". It has been too long coming. But again, there was no reason this should have been a surprise.

The government should have long ago invited the public to participate in this important, much-needed policy change. It must do so now, urgently.


There will be massive and important resistance to change.

The current drug policy suits certain highly influential people.

Drug trafficking has sowed corruption in low and high places alike.

The obscene profits are even more addictive than the ya ba itself.

It may be that it will take this military regime to push aside strong opposition and bring in a proper drug policy based on science.

People will support any effort to bring relief to the drug problem. But they must also be part of the solution.

The faster Gen Paiboon and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha involve the millions of concerned citizens, the quicker the failed policies can be turned around.

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  • achieve: to succeed in doing something very good or difficult - บรรลุผลสำเร็จ
  • addictive (adj): of something, e.g., especially a drug, a game, an activity like gambling, which you cannot stop once you have started - ซึ่งทำให้ติดได้; ซึ่งทำให้ติดยาได้
  • adj (noun): connected with soldiers or the armed forces - ในทางทหาร,เกี่ยวกับทหาร
  • amphetamine (noun): a drug that makes you feel excited and full of energy. Amphetamines are sometimes taken illegally. - แอมเฟตามีน, ยาขยัน, ยาบ้า
  • announcement: a spoken or written statement that informs people about something - การประกาศ
  • argue: to give reasons why you think that something is right/wrong, true/not true, etc, especially to persuade people that you are right - ห้เหตุผล, อ้างเหตุผล
  • associate (verb): to connect with in some way - เชื่อมโยงกัน
  • authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • banned: officially prevented from doing something - ห้าม ห้างอย่างเด็ดขาด
  • based on (verb): information or facts used to make a story, calculation, judgement or decision - ตั้งอยู่บน,ยึดเป็นหลัก
  • battle: a fight; serious disagreement, strong competition, etc. - การต่อสู้
  • board: a group of people who have the responsibility of managing important business or government activities - คณะกรรมการ
  • bystander: a person who is standing near and watching something that is happening but is not taking part in it - ผู้เห็นเหตุการณ์, ผู้สังเกตการณ์
  • catalyst: someone or something that causes something to happen or change - ตัวเร่งปฏิกิริยา
  • category: a group of people or things that have similar qualities - หมวดหมู่ ประเภท
  • citizen: someone who has the right to live permanently in a particular country - พลเมือง 
  • colleagues (noun): people who work in the same organisation, department or field as you do - เพื่อนร่วมงาน
  • concerned: worried about something   - มีความกังวล
  • congratulations: praise or approval for someone showing you are pleased about a special or unusual achievement - ความยินดีด้วย, การพลอยยินดี
  • consult: to ask for information or advice from someone - หารือ
  • consumption: the act of using energy, food or materials; the amount used - การบริโภคพลังงาน, การใช้หมดไป
  • contrary: completely different or opposed to something else - ตรงข้าม
  • control: To exercise restraining or governing influence over; to check; to counteract; to restrain; to regulate; to govern; to overpower - จัดการ, ควบคุม
  • controversial: causing disagreement or disapproval - ความไม่ลงรอยกัน
  • corner: a part of something where two or more sides, lines, edge, streets, etc. join - มุม, หัวมุมถนน
  • credibly: in a believable way, able to be believed or trusted - น่าเชื่อถือ
  • dealer: a person who sells (illegal drugs in this case) - ผู้จำหน่าย
  • decade: a period of ten years - ทศวรรษ
  • decriminalise: make not criminal, so that people can do activity without breaking the law -
  • defeat: a loss - ความพ่ายแพ้
  • demote: to give something a less important position - ลดชั้น, ลดระดับ, ลดสถานะภาพ
  • depend on: according to; affected by things that happen - ขึ้นอยู่กับ
  • depending on: according to; affected by things that happen - ขึ้นอยู่กับ
  • designation: formally chosen for something - การแต่งตั้งให้เป็น
  • draw: to attract or interest somebody - ดึงดูดความสนใจ
  • drug abuse: using drugs in a bad way; not to cure the disease the drugs were made to cure - การใช้ยาในทางที่ผิด
  • drug trafficking: the business of buying and selling drugs illegally - การลักลอบค้ายาเสพติด
  • effort: an attempt to do something - ความพยายาม
  • employed: used - ใช้
  • encourage: to cause someone to be more likely to happy - กระตุ้น
  • encouraged: having more confidence or hope about something - มีกำลังใจ
  • expert: someone who has a particular skill or who knows a lot about a particular subject - ผู้เชี่ยวชาญ
  • exponentially (adv): becoming faster and faster - เพิ่มแบบชี้กำลัง
  • faculty: a group of departments in a college which specialize in a particular subject or group of subjects - คณะ
  • global: world - เกี่ยวกับโลก
  • harmful: causing damage or injury to somebody/something, especially to a person's health or to the environment - เป็นอันตราย,เป็นภัย
  • human rights: the basic rights which it is generally considered all people should have, such as justice and the freedom to say what you think - สิทธิมนุษยชน
  • indicate: to show that something is true, exists or will happen - แสดง, ให้สัญญาณ
  • initial: early; first - เบื้องต้น
  • innocent: a person who has not done anything wrong - ผู้บริสุทธิ์
  • Justice Minister (noun): The minister who heads the Ministry of Justice - รัฐมนตรีว่าการกระทรวงกระทรวงยุติธรรม
  • key: very important - ที่สำคัญ
  • law enforcement: the process of making sure that people obey the law - การบังคับใช้กฎหมาย
  • leading (adjective): among the first and most important in a group - ชั้นหนึ่ง, ชั้นแนวหน้า, ชั้นนำ
  • legalise: to make something be according to the law - ทำให้มีอำนาจตามกฎหมาย ทำให้ถูกต้องตามกฎหมาย
  • major: very large or important - สำคัญมาก
  • massive: very large in size, amount or number - ใหญ่โต
  • means: methods; ways - วิธี, วิธีการ
  • measure: a firm action taken to solve a problem or stop a dangerous unpleasant situation - มาตราการ
  • methamphetamine: a stimulant drug that increases alertness and energy, but which is dangerous when taken in large amounts or over a long period of time - ยาบ้า
  • mixed: a combination or mixture of different things - ผสม
  • murder (verb): to commit the crime of killing someone deliberately - ฆาตกรรม, สังหาร
  • narcotics: illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine or crystal methamphetamine - ยาเสพย์ติด
  • obscene: connected with sex in a way that most people find offensive - ลามก
  • official: done by people in authority or decided by the government; announced publicly - เป็นทางการ
  • opposite: a person or thing that is as different as possible from somebody/something else - ตรงกันข้าม
  • opposition: strong disagreement with a plan or policy - ความขัดแย้ง
  • out of the blue: completely unexpected -
  • overall (adj): total; including all the things or people that are involved in a particular situation; general - ทั้งหมด, โดยทั่วไป
  • overhaul: to improve something so that every part of it works properly - ปรับปรุงใหม่
  • participate: to take part in or become involved in an activity - มีส่วน
  • peddler: a person who sells illegal drugs - คนขายยาผิดกฎหมาย
  • petty: small and unimportant - เล็กน้อย, ไม่สำคัญ, ไม่ค่าที่จะสนใจ
  • policy (noun): a set of plans or action agreed on by a government, political party, business, or other group - นโยบาย
  • prevent (verb): to stop somebody from doing something; to stop something from happening - ขัดขวาง, ป้องกัน, กัน, กีดขวาง
  • prison: a place where criminals are put to stay for a period of time as punishment for a crime - คุก, ,เรือนจำ
  • production: the process of making goods or materials, especially large quantities - การผลิต
  • profit: money that you make from selling goods and services after all your costs have been paid - กำไร
  • prohibition: not allowing something; banning - (มีคำสั่ง)ห้าม
  • promise: a sign that somebody/something will be successful - ลักษณะหรือท่าทีที่ดี
  • promote: to encourage or support something - สนับสนุน
  • proper: right, appropriate or correct; according to the rules - เหมาะสม
  • proposal: a plan or suggestion for a group to consider - ข้อเสนอ
  • purpose (noun): the intention, aim or function of something; the thing that something is supposed to achieve - จุดประสงค์, เป้าหมาย, วัตถุประสงค์
  • rather: somewhat; partly but not completely - บ้าง, บางส่วน
  • reaction: the way something responds as a result of something that happens - ปฏิกิริยา การตอบสนอง, ปฏิกิริยาตอบโต้
  • reaction: the way you behave or respond as a result of something that happens - ปฏิกิริยาตอบโต้
  • reform: a change that is intended to correct a situation that is wrong or unfair - การแก้ไข การปฏิรูป
  • regime: a government that controls a country, especially in a strict or unfair way - รัฐบาลที่ขึ้นมาปกครองโดยการยึดอำนาจ
  • relief: help for improving a bad physical condition or a bad situation - การผ่อนคลาย, การบรรเทา
  • renege: to fail to do what you agreed to do; to not do what is promised in an agreement -
  • resistance: a refusal to accept something or allow it to happen - การต่อต้าน, การขัดขืน
  • rethink: to consider or think about something again in order to decide whether or not to make changes - คิดใหม่, คิดอีก, ทบทวนใหม่
  • reveal: to let something become known - เปิดเผย
  • revolve (verb): to go in a circle around a central point - หมุนรอบ, เวียน, วนรอบ, โคจร
  • seize (verb): to take something using force - ยึด, จับกุม
  • session: a formal meeting - การชุมนุม ประชุม
  • situation: all the circumstances and things that are happening at a particular time and in a particular place - สถานการณ์
  • solution: a way of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation - วิธีแก้ปัญหา
  • sow: to cause a bad emotion or condition to begin somewhere, which will grow or continue - ทำให้แพร่หลาย
  • spur: to cause something to happen - ก่อให้เกิด 
  • stamp out: to end something bad or unpleasant by taking strong action - ยุติ, ดับ
  • statement: something that you say or write that gives information or an opinion - แถลงการณ์, คำแถลง
  • stimulant: a substance that makes a part of your body work faster or better; a substance that makes you feel more awake when you eat it or drink it - สารกระตุ้น
  • successive: following immediately one after the other - ต่อเนื่องกัน, ตามลำดับ
  • support: to give help, encouragement or sympathy to somebody - สนับสนุน, เป็นกำลังใจ
  • tablet: a small round solid piece of medicine or other substance that you swallow - ยาเม็ดแบน
  • the public: people in general - ประชาชน, สาธารณชน, มหาชน
  • tolerant (adj): able to accept what other people say or do even if you do not agree with it - ซึ่งยอมรับฟังความคิดเห็นของผู้อื่น
  • turned around: made successful again after a period of failure -
  • university (noun): a school where students study for BA, MA, MS and PhD degrees and where research is done - มหาวิทยาลัย
  • uproar: angry public criticism of something - ความเอะอะ, ความวุ่นวาย
  • urgently: needing to be dealt with immediately - อย่างเร่งด่วน
  • violation: an action that is against a law, agreement, principle, etc. - การฝ่าฝืน
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