Ministry, agencies at odds over drug policy

Ministry, agencies at odds over drug policy

The Public Health Ministry's plan to re-classify a person possessing less than 10 meth pills as a drug addict instead of a criminal requires a well-rounded discussion before a final decision is made on the issue, said Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.

Mr Srettha called for a meeting yesterday with senior officials from the Royal Thai Police (RTP) office, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) and his advisers, who provided the premier with input on the current laws and the ministry's plan on a re-classification which is being opposed by various agencies including the RTP.

The prime minister said the issue needs further thrashing out before it is decided whether the ministry's plan will go ahead and, if so, how it will be managed.

Mr Srettha's remark came as the RTP voiced concern the re-classification might cause the drug problem to spin out of control, suggesting that five pills might be a more suitable cut-off.

Pol Gen Kitrat Phanphet, deputy national police chief, agreed the issue remains debatable. The RTP is in the middle of discussing the ministry's proposed 10-pill ceiling with various agencies.

The police, whose duty is to enforce drug trade suppression laws and curb the spread of drug abuse, have insisted the five-pill limit, which is currently set by the law, should be maintained, he said.

The ONCB has also argued in favour of the current legal limit, saying the 10-pill ceiling would worsen the drug problem.

ONCB acting secretary-general, Pol Lt Gen Phanurat Lakboon said he feared a higher limit would create a loophole that entices more meth trafficking by small-scale peddlers.

"The peddling would flourish when a person can carry up to 10 meth pills," he said.

Setting the limit at 10 pills would incentivise drug dealers to traffic and trade the illicit drug, he said.

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