11 July 2024

The Ministry of Public Health and the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) have defended a revised ministerial regulation which treats a person who possesses five meth pills, instead of 15, as a drug abuser who requires rehabilitation.

Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew said that the revised regulation is nothing new because it was enforced about 20 years ago, but was later amended to increase the number of meth pills, which would be considered possession for distribution, to 15, below which was for self-consumption.

He explained that possessing even one meth tablet is illegal, but authorities want to separate the drug users from the drug traders, so that those who possess not more than 5 meth pills will be subject to rehabilitation if they develop psychiatric symptoms. If they do not have symptoms, they can voluntarily undergo rehabilitation, he said.

The minister insisted that the government is determined to the tackle the drug problem within a year, by targeting both drug users and traffickers.

Under the revised regulation, drug users are subject to one year of in prison and/or a fine of 20,000 baht on conviction, or two years in prison and/or a 40,000 baht fine if they possess more than five meth tablets. Traffickers are subject to 1-10 years in prison and a fine of 20,000-1.5 million baht on conviction.

Dr. Cholnan said that the revised regulation was not dreamt up by the Public Health Ministry, as he advised its critics to read it carefully before making comments which may lead to public confusion or misunderstanding.

ONCB Secretary-General Pol Lt-Gen Phanurat Lukboon, also confirmed that the revised regulation is nothing new and is intended to give drug users a chance to turn over a new leaf and remain in society, instead of being incarcerated and ultimately becoming traffickers themselves.