The Justice Ministry and the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) back the Public Health Ministry's move to amend its regulations to classify a person in possession of no more than 10 meth pills as a user, not a dealer.
Deputy Prime Minister and ONCB president Somsak Thepsutin on Tuesday addressed the controversy over the new regulation that the 10-pill limit was devised carefully by the police, the ONCB, the Public Health Ministry and the Department Of Provincial Administration.
The Public Health Ministry plans to introduce the new regulation allowing those found in possession of 10 pills or less to be classified as addicts and users, making them eligible to receive treatment rather than being sent to jail, in December.
To declare a suspect an addict, user or dealer, Mr Somsak said that an investigation must look into their history and behaviour.
"One methamphetamine pill has about 10-20mg of purity matter while an intake of 50mg can cause schizophrenia and 120mg can lead to death. Most drug users generally take 1-3 meth pills per day and carry less than 10 pills with them," Mr Somsak said.
He addressed concerns that dealers carrying less than 10 meth pills might be categorised as users, saying that if they are found to be dealing drugs, they will be prosecuted.
Mr Somsak also said that the Supreme Court board had approved the addition of a drug department at the court and a new position of Vice President of the Supreme Court on drug cases.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Pol Col Tawee Sodsong said that authorities will set criteria for drug dealers to be prosecuted, even those caught with only one pill, in an attempt to plug the legal loophole.
When asked if the new public health ministerial regulation will worsen substance abuse in Thailand, Pol Col Tawee replied that the Public Health Ministry and related parties have agreed that redefining drug users as patients with a history of drug use is well-advised.
Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, a former public health minister, refused to comment on the new regulation. During his term as public health minister, the ministry aimed to categorise drug users as those caught in possession of two pills.