Responding to reality

Umesh Pandey, in his June 17 commentary "Speeding on the road to ya ba ruin", argues Thailand should continue its harsh approach to illicit drugs because they are dangerous. But are they banned because they are dangerous, or is it more that they are dangerous because of being banned?

Evidence shows most drug users also drink alcohol heavily. When they commit crimes, alcohol, which has addictive properties, is rarely mentioned as a dangerous substance in the media. Evidence also shows that social issues are major causes behind all substance abuse problems.

Methamphetamine is a helpful medicine in many countries. So too are heroin, cannabis, cocaine and ketamine. The problems with these drugs arise when they are distributed through a black market. Reintroducing medicinal cannabis in the USA and other countries shows how one can cost-effectively and safely manage and control dangerous drugs outside of the black market.

Global drug prohibition, which Mr Pandey wants to see maintained, is unravelling. The international consensus for this policy is irreparably broken, as was made clear during the debate between countries at the UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem in New York in April.

What ended that consensus was the spectacular failure of drug prohibition. While the world waged a war on drugs, the drug market expanded and became more dangerous. We saw increasing production and consumption, an increase in the types of drugs, more new and dangerous drugs, falling prices, rising purity and high levels of availability. Worse, deaths, disease, crime, corruption and violence all increased. Prohibition proved to be an expensive way of making bad problems even worse.

In 2011, the Global Commission on Drug Policy declared the war on drugs pursued by governments worldwide a colossal failure. The initial 20 or so former presidents and prime ministers of the Global Commission have attracted another 20 or so members to advise governments on alternative approaches to drug policies.

A growing number of countries are redefining drugs as primarily a health and social problem, rather than solely a law enforcement problem. Many countries have started decriminalising the use of drugs and investing in health and harm reduction interventions, or are carrying out other reforms.

In looking at the scientific evidence and seeking to develop policies that better manage the harms of drug use and markets, Thailand is joining an increasing number of governments that are willing to respond to the realities of current drug-related problems.

Dr Apinun AramrattanaFaculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University
They're doing fine

The Bangkok Taxi cooperative asked the Transport Ministry to halt the legalisation of private car taxi services because it will "add more hardship for taxi drivers".

I'd feel more sympathetic to their cause once Bangkok taxi drivers stop fleecing tourists, refusing fares, tampering with meters, assaulting women, playing loud music, demanding a flat rate, scamming, pretending they don't have change or driving like drug crazed lunatics.

In my experience, Bangkok taxi drivers are doing just fine. The 10-plus drivers that refused my fare last night clearly do not need the money.

Jeff Grabowski
Rein in bully boys

Re: "Defamation charges 'are silencing dissent','' (BP, June 17)

Many of us will have been spanked as naughty little children, and deservedly so, but on reaching maturity "SLAPP-ing" should have become a thing of the past.

Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP, a vexatious defamation charge used to suppress public dissent and scrutiny) are now commonly employed by Thai public figures, state officials, politicians and corporations to cover up serious malfeasance. This will not change any time in the near future for fear of exposing the magnitude of high-level criminality and corruption that continues to take place.

What has been exposed so far is that "SLAPP-ers" are puerile, nefarious, self-serving bullies and abusers of the rights of citizens. That these individuals and organisations are in notable positions of power and influence is the biggest scandal of all and this should be Thailand's most pressing concern.

John Shepherd

CONTACT: BANGKOK POST BUILDING 136 Na Ranong Road Klong Toey, Bangkok 10110 Fax: +02 6164000 email:

All letter writers must provide full name and address.
All published correspondence is subject to editing at our discretion.
19 Jun 2016 19 Jun 2016
20 Jun 2016 20 Jun 2016


All letter writers must provide a full name and address. All published correspondence is subject to editing and sharing at our discretion