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Phuket Opinion: Drugs on the streets

Phuket Opinion: Drugs on the streets

PHUKET: The news this week of Phuket having amongst the highest number of prosecutions for drugs in the country should not come as much of a surprise, it has been a long time coming.

opinion
By The Phuket News

Sunday 29 December 2019, 09:00AM


With the volume and prevalence of drugs on the island, police need to check drivers for more than just alcohol. Photo: The Phuket News / file

With the volume and prevalence of drugs on the island, police need to check drivers for more than just alcohol. Photo: The Phuket News / file

The prevalence of drug use on the island has been on the rise for years. Only this time last year it was revealed that Phuket was facing its worst state in the fight against drugs with more drugs on the island than ever before and on average 23 people being arrested for drugs every day of the year.

That trend has continued, as evidenced by the ever-ongoing number of arrests of minor dealers and and users, most for drugs possession. While most of those arrested are wayward young people testing the boundaries between social behaviour and the law, many of them are also everyday people caught up in recreational drug use. That factor finally appears to be understood by the authorities, with anti-drugs awareness campaigns now targetting the average citizen.

As with any country trying to contain illicit drug use, the larger question of why such everyday good people are now turning to drugs to enhance, cope with or otherwise distract from their daily lives remains unexplored by those in a position to make a change. One one hand it seems governments want people to not use drugs, then they do very little to give them a reason not to – and they wonder why saying “just don’t do it” seems to have no effect.

With the annual “Seven Days of Danger” road-safety campaign for the New Year underway this week, the role of drug use in road accidents can no longer be ignored. The volume and prevalence of drug use on the island demands that police no longer just test drivers for alcohol – and not just for the Seven Days, but for the whole of the year.

Thanyapura Health 360

Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda, under whom the Royal Thai Police operate, earlier this month called for trucking companies to ensure their drivers take adequate rest stops over the New Year holiday period – one of the deadliest weeks on Thai roads throughout the year.

That call came after trucking companies and truck drivers were outraged over one driver for being arrested after being found in possession of one lone pill of methamphetamine, also well known as ya bah, meaning “crazy drug”, found in the truck driver’s cab. The truckers protested, suggesting the pill was planted by police, but it is no secret that long-haul drivers in Thailand resort to minor drug use in coping with the long hours they must work to get paid.

In Phuket, the danger lies in young people and our own transport drivers. A van-on-van wipeout earlier this month brought on by an overtired driver highlighted the long hours worked by those trusted to safely ferry our tourists around the island. Thankfully no tourists were injured in that collision.

It seems that police openly already know who should be targetted first for drug use while behind the wheel. They just seem to be unwilling to do it. Surely we are beyond the time to think the public don’t already know.

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Kurt | 31 December 2019 - 12:44:38

@DeK, good sharp reader you are. Yes, You are right.  I should have written: "This article is about drugs, not about marijuana ONLY'. Forgive me forgetting the word 'only'.

DeKaaskopp | 30 December 2019 - 13:46:24

"...this article is about drugs.Not about marijuana" Wow,I thought our drug enforcement specialist would have known better.Marijuana is a drug,legal or not ,doesn't matter !!!

Christy Sweet | 30 December 2019 - 13:33:01

Thank you for pointing out governments that criminalize drug use do little to address the reasons. Maybe shopping,  eating  and other forms of consumerism just doesn't cut it for some people to mitigate personal angst. 

Kurt | 30 December 2019 - 10:43:51

@ k.ematt,  Not so fast, sir! It are still talks as you can read, medical marijuana is still not legal by thai laws.

Kurt | 30 December 2019 - 10:18:57

@K. ematt, this article is about drugs. Not about marijuana.

ematt | 30 December 2019 - 09:45:44

Thailand now has legal medical marijuana. Maybe it’s time for Kurt to see the doctor and relax. 

Sir Burr | 29 December 2019 - 16:02:42

The "war on drugs" around the world has failed spectacularly. Time for a different approach. Those countries that treat drug-taking as a medical problem rather than a criminal problem are making great strides. Legalize everything, tax and control. The added side benefit is that drug gangs will disappear as they just won't be able to compete on price.

Kurt | 29 December 2019 - 12:13:34

Great Opinion piece! I long time say that Phuket is sinking under the drugs. Obviously the drugs fight by Phuket Officials is not sufficient/adequate. As PN wrote about 'seemed unwillingness', the big question is ..WHY? And, may we expect that more drugs reach Phuket over seas ( speed boats, long tail boats) than over land? Is there a anti drugs cordon at sea around small Phuket island?

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