'5-pill rule' to become just 1 for meth
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'5-pill rule' to become just 1 for meth

Govt ends 'loophole' after public concern

The Public Health Ministry has proposed tightening the definition of a drug user by limiting the legally permissible number of methamphetamine tablets, aka ya ba, from the current threshold of five pills to one to seal a loophole that benefits drug dealers.

Public Health Minister Somsak Thepsuthin on Friday chaired a meeting featuring representatives from the Public Health Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Office of the Attorney General, the Royal Thai Police, the Office of the Judiciary, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board and the Office of the Council of State.

According to Mr Somsak, the meeting, conducted to review ministerial regulations related to the legal categories of drug possession, came up with a clear line between drug users and drug dealers based on the number of meth pills they possess.

People possessing one tablet of methamphetamine or less than 20 milligrammes of the drug in powder or other form should be assumed to be drug users, he said.

However, should a further investigation find that person is involved with a drug crime, they could be deemed a dealer despite only one tablet being found, he added.

"I would like to emphasise that possessing even one methamphetamine pill is an offence, and it must be proven whether the person in possession is a user or a seller. If they are a user, they must receive [rehabilitation] treatment," he said.

Based on the policy of "One consumer leads to one seller and then one producer", the minister said possessing one pill could lead to the seizure of the person's assets.

Attendees at the meeting also agreed on adjusting the amount of amphetamine as an addictive substance for personal use to less than 100 milligrammes.

The results appeared on the ministry's website to facilitate public hearings from yesterday.

He further explained that the rule change was made in a bid to align closer with the drug suppression law, as well as coming in response to people's concern over the five-pill rule, which has been criticised as a potential loophole for drug dealers to escape punishment for the more serious offences of selling or distributing.

Regarding drug rehabilitation, Mr Somsak said he ordered the ministry to help the Ministry of Justice's Department of Behaviour Control to accommodate the treatment of more than 100,000 people with mild drug-related symptoms.

According to Jirapong Songwatcharaphon, deputy spokesperson of the Ministry of Public Health, Political Department, an alternative injectable medicine will be used for patients in the severe addiction group who have been treated and discharged but still need help.

"This will help mentally ill patients, and it is good for those who neglect to take their medicine as prescribed, which would lead to failed treatments," Mr Jirapong said.

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