Thai drug problems worsens as opium production rises

PHOTO: Thai drug problems worsens as opium production rises

Photo: Thailand and Southeast Asia face increasing drug problems following a boost in methamphetamine abuse and the expansion of poppy plantations in Burma and Laos, according to the 2011 report released yesterday by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

THAILAND - Young people in the region are major targets for methamphetamine, known as "ice", the report said. This is matched by an increasing number of cases reported by anti-narcotics police and the Office of Narcotics Control Board, especially in the Northeast, which borders the two countries.

In certain cases, methamphetamines is sold as a diet supplement at prices cheaper than amphetamines. Amphetamines are more popular among Thais. Traders found this tactic attracted greater sales of amphetamines and helped them introduce methamphetamines to existing clients.

In its recommendations, INCB encouraged countries to increase the amount of internationally controlled drugs (ICDs) to match needs of patients under various conditions, following a World Health Organisation (WHO) standard.

Under the UN definition, ICDs are addictive substances needed for general or psychotropic treatment. Their production needs to be regulated because excessive amounts might be left in the hands of dealers or abused by users. Most ICDs are non-patented, or their patents have expired.

In this respect, Thailand is still under a WHO standard to provide internationally controlled drugs to 101 patients per million people within 24 hours, said Viroj Sumyai, an INCB board member

The WHO standard stipulates a minimum of 200 patients, while in a country like the US, the figure is higher than 10,000.

The INCB found that production of poppy in Laos had been increasing. Methamphetamine has also been trafficked widely in China, Laos, Burma.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) plays an important role in monitoring enforcement of restrictions on narcotics and psychotropics.

Its representative for East Asia and Pacific, Gary Lewis, said it was important that suppression must abide by the rule of law. He had been asked about possible drug-related violence and revenge killings.

International attention would be important in keeping government's operations in check and local authorities should always heed human rights principles while conducting the crackdowns, Lewis said.