The objective of this research study is to review knowledge on policy and strategy of illicit drugs’ prevention and suppression between 1997-2007. This is a documentary research which compiled knowledge and case studies related to policy and strategy of illicit drugs prevention and suppression.
Results of this study indicated that the framework on looking at the problem of illicit drugs had at least 4 related factors, which were necessary for strategic planning. The related factors are, estimation and categorization of individuals in general population who are involved with illicit drugs, individuals who are at risk with illicit drugs, individuals who are selling illicit drugs, those who consume / use and those who are addicts etc., including those who are involved with solving illicit drugs problems both directly and indirectly. Factors involved with areas are, at the level of village/community, sub-district, district, province, regional and national level, which area related to illicit drugs problems related to production, import/export, storage, distribution etc., including societal unit area such as school or educational area, workplace or factory area etc. Factors related to illicit drugs itself, such as, opium, heroin, marijuana, amphetamine, etc. Factors related to environment are such as economic factor, political, international relations, and social factors, etc., which has positive or negative impact on illicit drugs problems.
The important content of government policy according to prime minister order number 119/2544 and 120/2544, and the 9th National Plan for Economic and Social Development related to the prevention and suppression on illicit drugs, are as follow.
1. Problem of illicit drugs is a national priority, with strict enforcement through the principle of “prevention before suppression; addicts shall receive therapy sessions; seller/distributors shall receive severe punishment”.
2. Winning over the illicit drugs problem by intervening 3 circles: controlling illicit drugs, separating addicts from drugs trafficking through therapy and rehabilitation process, and prevention of illicit drugs use through empowering and raising public awareness by focusing on target communities.
Important illicit drugs are as follow:
a. Amphetamine is an important illicit drugs which remains a major problem nationally for the past 10 years. Myanmar is an important producer for distribution to neighbouring countries and then smuggled into Thailand, through various borders from northern to central part, and Bangkok.
b. Marijuana is cultivated mainly in Lao and some part in Thailand. Major area of this illicit drug are northeastern, southern parts of Thailand and Bangkok. Some of the drugs are smuggled out to other countries.
c. Various vaporizing addictive substances are popular among young people under 18 years old. Principle areas are northeastern part of Thailand and Bangkok.
d. Kratom (Thai herb) and cough medicine are increasing in popularity for the past few years. Principle areas are southern part of Thailand, certain areas in Bangkok and neighboring provinces.
e. Club drugs or illicit drugs in bars, nightclubs or various entertainment places at night. These are Ice, Ecstasy, cocaine, and Ketamine which is imported. Areas of heavy consumption of these drugs are tourist spots such as Bangkok, some provinces in southern, northern and central area. These drugs are limited to certain population groups.
f. Opium, other variations of opium / heroin. There are certain areas of opium cultivation in Thailand, which needs to be reduced continuously. Majority of heroin in Thailand are smuggled from various borders. Southern, some northern areas and Bangkok are major areas of heroin consumption.
Various groups of individuals who have major roles in distribution and trafficking at present are the same group of people in the past several years. They are,
1. Foreign labor force such as Myanmar, Lao and Cambodia are increasing in number for selling and distribution of illicit drugs.
2. Foreign nationals who sell illicit drugs such as Africans, Asians etc.
3. Group which sell illicit drugs along borders and networks with those selling in the country, such as northern and central part.
4. Foreign labor force who sells drugs such as Myanmar, Lao and Cambodia.
5. Those who sell drugs in inner areas of the country.
According to Prime Minister Office order number 29/2546 and 30/2546 related to winning the war over illicit drugs and establishing National Center of Illicit Drugs Prevention and Suppression, and number 31/2546 related to establishing regional center for illicit drugs prevention and suppression, are for the objective of getting rid of illicit drugs.
Between 2003-2004 Thai government declared war on illicit drugs with the result of 2,500 homicides in order to cut short the real connection of drug lord or mastermind, who may be high ranking government officials or politicians. Even though the war on illicit drugs reduces national consumption drastically, but problem of drugs along the borders is increasing with smuggling and importation. The route for trafficking drugs is from the northern part but store for shipment in eastern part of Thailand. This makes it look like there was a change for different route from eastern area. Another favorite route is from Lao, in the golden triangle area to Luang Prabang province. From there, drugs will be transported to Viengtiene, with one route going through Loei province. Special route to be considered is the one from Myanmar and going through Andaman Sea.
From estimation, there are over 100 groups of drug cartels all over Thailand. The problem of drug distribution has reduced drastically between 2006-2007. Number of arrested drug cases has reduced. Policy and strategy in prevention and suppression during the past 10 years was dynamic, since this is complicated and increasing in violence both domestically and internationally. From the strategy of “People and Government Fight Illicit Drugs Together” to “Power of the Land to Win Over Illicit Drugs” in order to get rid of drugs, the strategic planning is national agenda, with priority not less than economic problem or other social problem.
The conclusion of this documentary research reflects the development and taking it seriously as the national agenda. The result indicates legal measures and budgeting process to facilitate this national strategy, including performance-based results from various important plans for prevention and suppression of illicit drugs.