Thailand’s drug policy shift: Possession of 10 or fewer meth pills no longer means jail time


A significant shift in Thailand’s approach to drug possession is underway, as the Justice Ministry and the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) are supporting an initiative by the Public Health Ministry. This initiative aims to reclassify individuals found with 10 or fewer methamphetamine pills as users rather than dealers.

Somsak Thepsutin, Deputy Prime Minister and ONCB president, addressed the ongoing debate surrounding the proposed drug possession regulation. He stressed that the 10-pill threshold was thoughtfully established in collaboration with the police, the ONCB, the Public Health Ministry, and the Department Of Provincial Administration.

The new regulation is set to be introduced in December and will allow those found with 10 or fewer pills to be classified as addicts and users. This reclassification will enable them to receive treatment instead of imprisonment.

However, Somsak emphasised that an individual’s history and behaviour must be examined before labelling them as a user or dealer.

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“One methamphetamine pill has about 10-20 milligrammes of purity matter while an intake of 50 milligrammes can cause schizophrenia and 120 milligrammes can lead to death. Most drug users generally take 1-3 meth pills per day and carry less than 10 pills with them.”

Addressing concerns over potential misuse of the new drug possession regulation, Somsak assured that any dealers found carrying fewer than 10 meth pills and involved in drug trafficking would face prosecution. He also disclosed that the Supreme Court had approved the establishment of a dedicated drug department and a new Vice President role to oversee drug-related cases, reported Bangkok Post.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong declared that authorities will define criteria for prosecuting drug dealers, even those caught with a single pill, to close any legal loopholes.

When questioned on the potential increase in substance abuse due to the new regulation, Tawee expressed confidence that the Public Health Ministry’s decision to treat drug users as patients with a history of drug use was sound.

Anutin Charnvirakul, the Interior Minister, declined to comment on the regulation. Notably, during his tenure as the public health minister, the ministry aimed to define drug users as individuals in possession of just two pills.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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