Govt to review limit on drug possession amid backlash

Govt to review  limit on drug  possession amid backlash

Five meth pills ‘too many’ given crisis

Govt to review limit on drug possession amid backlash
Food and Drug Administration officials do a final check on 340 tonnes of illicit drugs seized in 836,081 cases at its headquarters in Nonthaburi in December last year. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Monday said the government is ready to review a ministerial policy that will lower punishment for drug users found in possession of five meth pills or less.

The premier made the remark following an announcement of a new limit on methamphetamine pill possession signed by Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew on Feb 9.

The new policy specifies that five methamphetamine pills are the maximum amount that a person may possess and still be regarded as a user.

But the five-pill limit has sparked a social media backlash, with many criticising that the amount is too much given the country is plagued by narcotics.

Mr Srettha urged the public to wait and see after the measure is implemented.

“People should not possess any quantity of drugs, no matter if it’s five pills or one pill,” he said. “But we will have to try the new policy and see if it works.”

The premier stressed that the government is addressing the narcotics issue as part of its national agenda and has ramped up efforts to stamp out drug smuggling along the border while supporting drug abuse rehabilitation.

According to Dr Cholnan, the new meth pill possession policy is based on medical science and agreed upon by the public ministry’s psychiatrists.

The new limit was agreed upon during a meeting of various agencies, including the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), Royal Thai Police, the Ministry of Justice, public prosecutors and the Court of Justice, on Nov 3 last year.

Unser the new policy, possessors of no more than five pills will be regarded as psychiatrically ill patients and subject to rehabilitation.

If they refuse to do so, legal action will follow, Dr Cholnan said.

Those found with more than five meth pills will face a charge of possession of narcotic drugs, in which the severity of penalties will be equal to drug distribution, export or import, with jail terms ranging from one to 10 years.

However, Dr Cholnan said that no matter how small the quantity, if the possessor is considered as having the intention to distribute, they must face severe punishment.

“The government will continue to crack down on drug rings and remove drugs from society,” he said.

Meanwhile, addicts must undergo medical treatment to ensure they won’t reuse again and be able to return to society, he said.