Public health ministry sets drug possession thresholdsLegacy

The Public Health Ministry issued a directive setting a threshold for the possession of illegal drugs. Individuals found with quantities below this threshold will be classified as drug users and will not face criminal charges. This directive was issued by Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew and was announced in the Royal Gazette on February 9.

This initiative is a companion to Section 107 of the Narcotics Code, which requires the minister to define the maximum quantities of illicit drugs a person can possess without being classified as a dealer or trafficker, who faces severe penalties.

For instance, an individual caught with up to five methamphetamine tablets or 500 milligrams, is to be considered a drug user under the law. The law recognises that people with small amounts of illegal drugs are likely to use them for personal consumption. These individuals are expected to enter rehab and avoid jail time.

Cholnan stated that the proposal was subject to a public hearing that lasted two weeks. The proposal was then submitted to the cabinet for approval and subsequently published in the Royal Gazette, reported Bangkok Post.

Thresholds were also established for other commonly used drugs: MDEA (a substitute amphetamine), up to five units or 1,250 milligrammes; heroin, up to 300 milligrams; LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), a potent psychedelic, up to 100 milligrammes; ecstasy, up to 1,250 milligrams.

Further ceilings include cocaine, up to 200 milligrams; opium, up to 5,000 milligrams; cannabis extracts with more than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, up to 30 millilitres in liquid form; and ketamine, up to 500 milligrammes in crystal or powder form.

This regulation will be used as a reference by law enforcement agencies when prosecuting drug-related cases.

However, Cholnan emphasised that certain conditions must be met for drug users to avoid legal punishment. These include agreeing to participate in a drug rehabilitation programme, staying for the entire duration of the programme, and meeting all the programme’s criteria. Only upon completion of the programme can they avoid punishment.

Cholnan mentioned being misquoted by social media users who accused him of being lax on drug abuse.

On the other hand, Narcotics Suppression Bureau commissioner, Police Lieutenant General Kirisak Tantinwachai, pointed out that despite the thresholds, individuals caught with small quantities of drugs can still face severe penalties if the circumstances of the crime justify it. If it can be proven that they intended to trade or export even a small quantity of drugs, they could face lengthy prison sentences.

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Author: Mitch Connor