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Southeast Asia: Thailand Launches New "War on Drugs," But Promises No Killings (Maybe)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #530)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

Five years ago, the Thai government of then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawtra launched a bloody "war on drugs" in which an estimated 2,500 people were killed. Now, his political allies have announced that its successor has gotten underway, but they say they will not resort to extra-judicial executions of suspected drug peddlers and users.

Thai officials attend NGO human rights panel slamming Thai government at UN drug summit in Vienna last month
"Drugs are a chronic problem," Deputy Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said at a ceremony launching the six-month initiative. "Whoever is involved, police and the army will decisively arrest and prosecute the traffickers. But we will not kill or hurt anyone; otherwise, people will say this is government policy."

But Interior Minister Chalerm Yoobumrung, who is in charge of the campaign, sounded more ominous. The government would follow the rule of law, he said, then added: "If anyone does not want to die, don't walk this road," he said.

Chalerm said he had a list of 10,000 drug users compiled by police. "I can assure you all in the media that you will not get bored -- you will witness new and bold measures in this campaign," he said.

During the last Thai "war on drugs," human rights organizations accused the government of allowing police and soldiers to murder drug suspects. Thaksin defended his repressive apparatus, saying the deaths were "bad guys killing bad guys," and an investigation of his government by his government claimed security forces were acting in self-defense.

Thai officials complained that drug abuse had increased in the past two years. According to the Thai Justice Ministry, there are an estimated 570,000 drug users, up from 460,000 in 2003. While heroin is available, the most significant hard drug is methamphetamine.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

Thankfully the Thai gov is going to go after drug users again. Sometimes I see Thais who appear to me to be on Ya Baa I think this is the worst drug of all and has to be eliminated.
I am retired American Police and I can say it has ruined a lot of lives in the US.. People who use it become afaggressive, obnoxious, rude and combative.
Good luck to the Thai gov to take what ever steps are necessary to eliminate this evil drug.

Fri, 04/04/2008 - 6:27am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

The comments that drugs cause so much damage always take extreme examples.Most drug users take their gear recreationally and so minimise the health risks,obviously if one goes over the top with their drug use they have to suffer the consequences.I have taken drugs for 40years and am heroin dependant thats my choice with no apparant health problems.I use methadone with the occasional snort of pure smack when i can get it.I also enjoy opium,also when available.I have also been employed all my life and studied for a Degree in Social Science,an MA in Criminology and Msc in Social Work.Drugs are something i do to chill out and cope with the rotten world we live in.The war in Iraq and Afghanistan do far more harm than any drug.We are all adults we dont need to be criminalised and persecuted.Most drug users are in similar situations as myself having worked,studied,paid our taxes and helped old ladies across the road.We dont deserve no war on drugs.

Sat, 04/05/2008 - 9:38am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

What with the falling Pound and Dollar and the soaring price of aircraft fuel there is going to be a big fall in tourism next season in Thailand and they are going to need to pull something out of the bag by then.

What about legalising Marijuana? The Dutch experiment with this has been very successful. In fact looking around the world the countries which have liberalised the laws regarding weed are among the most successful economies like Switzerland for instance. ( California also and Canada, there is a very long list now).

Now that the Pound and Dollar are falling and the Euro is rising it makes sense to try and attract back the German
and Dutch tourists who don't come to Thailand so much now, who, as it happens are the only 2 nations in Europe who are on the up, with decreasing unemployment. The Dutch in particular like their weed and used to having on hand when ever they want it.

Yes you can get weed easily in Cambodia and Laos but it is still technically illegal and tourists are sick of being fleeced by the authorities there.

It's time to be sensible. What else is Thailand going to do to maintain tourist numbers? More Sex tourism?

Sun, 04/27/2008 - 12:22am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The only vested interest that need feel threatened by the decriminalization of marijuana is the world wide Pharmaceutical Industry

The Big brewers are all right about it now as doesn't seem to affect Alcohol sales at all.

3rd world countries such as Jamaica, who were worried about the loss of their biggest export earner, have had to accept that most weed is produced in the home countries now.

Organised crime is OK about it too. The growers and sellers, in Holland at any rate, are very enthusiastic about legalization. A few small time dealers might dread legalization but the people at the top are rearing to go.

But there are many reasons why the drugs companies fear it's legalization, chief among them that it is free and easily available for self medication and has proven medicinal qualities.

Widespread Legalization would cost them Billions at least. That's what's behind the American governments vendetta against the drug - because in no other nation are the drug manufacturers so powerful and have such a malign influence. and if it wasn't for America and American pressure the drug would be legal everywhere and the Pharmaceutical Industry very much poorer. Sales of tranquilisers, anti depressants and pain killers would be a fraction of what they are now.

It tends to be the more sensible successful countries that have defied the industrial/Pharmaceutical complex that is the USA - Holland. Canada, Switzerland - and the more sensible and successful states of America that have defied the federal Government and pressed on with decriminalisation - California, Oregon, New York State - Nations and States that are successful because they base their policies on facts and reason not ignorance and superstition.

Look at little Holland. When I visited there for the first time in 1997 Holland was the 3rd biggest exporter of Agricultural products in the world. An amazing achievement for a nation of 16 million people and the most crowded country on earth. It was also the 4th biggest exporter, for all products, in the world. it has slipped down the table somewhat lately, ( at the same time as I've noticed that alcohol consumption has began to soar, yes industrial output has often been observed to fall as alcohol consumption increases )

Stupid Britain next door to them regards Skunk - the Dutch name for the strains of Marijuana developed in Holland - as particularly pernicious, potent form of cannabis and which it believes causes Schizophrenia. How does the rate of mental illness in Holland compare with Britain's? If it compares anything like the relative educational standards, physical health, life expectancy, productivity, etc etc between the two countries then stupid Britain should shut it's stupid mouth and hang it's head in shame.

Switzerland - the home of some of the biggest Pharmaceutical companies - and Canada, another two of the more successful nations on Earth. Switzerland is famed for it's clockwork efficiency. In all it's years of existence the Swiss Franc has never been known to fall in value, the only currency in the world to be able to claim this. I rest my case

What does Thailand owe the drug companies? Have they ever done Thailand any favours? What's America ever done for Thailand? Sex tourism? Thailand's shame. Yes you let them have there bases in Thailand and look what they've left behind in Isean. Pattaya? Patong beach? You owe them for that?

Marijuana is such a lucrative crop. One small plant yields 25grammes and you can get several harvests a year. You could sell it in Thailand for 3 Euros a gramme half the European price that's 3750 baht a plant, nearly all clear profit. Canadian illegal exports to the USA now bring in more money than Canadian wheat exports. I popped into a coffee shop in Holland once to be told that the shop was actually closed but never the less the proprietor agreed to sell me some. He searched through his pockets for changes and his pockets were stuffed with money. He must have had tens of thousands of euros in his pocket.

believe me once the word gets around that weed has been legalised in Thailand you won't have to worry about falling tourist numbers. au contraire rodders au contarire. All you'll have to worry about is being trampled in the rush.

So come on Thailand do something amazing today

Sun, 06/15/2008 - 3:07am Permalink

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