Justice minister stands firm on legalising ya ba

Justice minister stands firm on legalising ya ba

Police show nearly 2 million methamphetamine pills seized from a sting operation early this year. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Police show nearly 2 million methamphetamine pills seized from a sting operation early this year. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

In defence of legalising methamphetamine, Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya says that jailing small-time traffickers and users does more harm than good as they might become more serious criminals.

In response to critics of his proposal to reclassify methamphetamine as a normal drug, Gen Paiboon said on Friday that although the government had tried to arrest producers of drugs and precursors, efforts to crack down on narcotics had led to the arrests of traffickers and users in such large numbers that jails were overcrowded.

When the inmates are released, many posed social problems as they returned to using drugs or expanding their criminal networks, the minister said.

As it was impossible to eliminate narcotics, there should be a proper way to live with them, Gen Paiboon said, while admitting that his idea had yet to be studied thoroughly.

In any case, he said society should consider the options and also consider the fact that liquor, cigarettes and coffee, which are also addictive products with neurological impacts, are sold and consumed legally.

The Office of the Narcotics Control Board is studying whether present laws impose too harsh punishments on drug traffickers and users, he added.

According to reports, some 140 prisons nationwide are overcrowded with more than 317,000 inmates, two-thirds of whom are serving narcotics-related sentences.

Some health experts recently warned that delisting methamphetamine from the category of dangerous illicit narcotics could increase the improper use of the drug. However, they support the idea of rehabilitating drug abusers instead of jailing them.


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