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New Thai PM forms committee to fight illicit drugs

Thailand illicit drugs
Destruction of Thailand's illicit drugs

Thailand’s new Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, has announced the creation of a special committee to combat illegal narcotics. The new PM was visiting Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai over the weekend. Much of the flow of illicit drugs into Thailand comes over the northern border with Myanmar.

The new committee, which includes the Thai military, has set a goal of reducing Thailand’s drug problem within a year.

During a visit to witness the destruction of seized narcotics by the Office of Narcotics Control Board in Samut Prakan province, the prime minister explained that the details of how this committee will address the issue will be revealed later. But he said it will include aspects like seizing assets from drug traffickers, tackling money laundering, and setting a timeline for destroying confiscated drugs.

Regarding cannabis, which was removed from the Category 5 drug list on June 9 last year, and has become increasingly available through shop-front retail outlets, the PM clarified that “cannabis is only permitted for medical purposes and is not for recreational use”.

His comments, now reiterated several times since his election, and outlined before the election in the Pheu Thai policy platform, confirm the government’s intention to rejig the current situation in a new Cannabis Act. From the policy statement, and the PMs recent comments on the matter, the new government will try and retain the new decriminalised status for cannabis for medicinal purposes only.

On the wider problems of illicit drugs flowing into Thailand, the PM emphasised that the military will take a more active role in preventing the smuggling of narcotics into Thailand from neighbouring countries.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the smuggling of methamphetamine, particularly from Myanmar and Laos, with large quantities being illegally transported across the long and porous border.

To crack down on illegal drugs, the prime minister stated that various government agencies, including the Interior and Public Health ministries, will collaborate on this effort.

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