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Phuket Opinion: Putting everyday people on ice

PHUKET: The volume of drugs on Phuket’s streets, as reported in our page 1 story this week, is more than alarming. The fact that 23 people a day are arrested for drugs on the island screams for serious attention, rather than the cut-and-paste ‘solution’ on offer of ramping up arrests and creating community networks that drug users are very unlikely to be in contact with in any way.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 2 December 2018, 09:00AM

A police officer inspects a driver and his car for drugs at the Phuket Check Point at Tha ChatChai. Photo: Tanyaluk Sakoot

A police officer inspects a driver and his car for drugs at the Phuket Check Point at Tha ChatChai. Photo: Tanyaluk Sakoot

If anything, the community network strategy looks like nothing more than the decades-old ‘one village, one informant’ tactic under the initial, and deadly, Thaksin-empowered ‘War on Drugs’.

Worse, at that number of drug arrests on the island, the likelihood that a person you know, work with, live alongside, or even serving you in your hotel is using drugs starts climbing rapidly.

Phuket Vice Governor Supoj Na Nongkhai hit the nail on the head – and kudos to him for not shying away from the issue – is that dealers are now targeting the island as a key market, and targeting everyday people. Prices have been slashed to lure first-timers to try drugs purely for recreational use. The ploy is then to get them to shift the recreational use to regular.

The huge danger is that this is where drugs become a part of everyday life. Drugs become how young people party, hard-working people relax, and teens get their rebellious kicks.

Remember that even not in the middle of a drug buzz, addicts are still in the grip of dependence. If the user is starting to crave for their next hit – whether they know it or not – they start becoming more restless, irritable and discontent. Does that description match a driver that you saw recently on Phuket’s roads?

Testing for drugs is not as simple or cheap as testing for alcohol, but at the drug rates cited by the province’s anti-narcotics task force more people behind the wheel or on the motorbike are becoming more likely to be under the influence of drugs than alcohol. Only if the user is noticeably impaired will any officer know.

To this, every country in the world knows that law enforcement goes only so far in curtailing the spread of drug use. The true fight is societal. And in a country where huge masses of people will turn up for a bike ride just to join the fun and take up some exercise, surely we can do better in our fight against drugs than we are now.



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Tbs | 04 December 2018 - 09:03:33

Drugs are not the problem. Education is.

Kurt | 03 December 2018 - 12:33:40

"The degree of civilization in a society can be judges by entering its prisons".  ( Fyodor Dostoevsky)

Kurt | 03 December 2018 - 12:19:20

Yup, sniffer dogs. But that will mess up the percentage of drug catching/passing through 'deals', made at influential high financial levels. Don't forget, this is a multi billion business.  Plus the fact that thai prisons are so overcrowded that you can not speak anymore of a human civilised prison system.

Winfield | 02 December 2018 - 15:35:40

Put sniffer dogs at the airport, Sarasin bridge, and the major boat/ferry ports.

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