CHIANGRAI TIMES – The Interior Ministry of Thailand is collaborating with provincial and local administration organization have launched a program named “Power of the Land to Win Over Illicit Drugs” policy and guidelines for 2012 to tackle the growing problem. Experts agree that information is necessary to show youngsters the dangers of illicit substances.
Authorities have urged stricter anti-drug measures in the North near the Thai-Burma border where drug traffickers smuggle illicit substances to other regions. They revealed that around 60.000 Thai villages suffer from drug crimes.
Opium growing areas in the Southern Shan State in Burma last year grew to 36,000 Rai that could produce 14 tons of heroin, later smuggled through Thai hill tribes to be distributed nationwide. Officials have advised northern post offices to be stricter on package mailing after drugs were reportedly mailed to customers.
A report by the US State Department said that the illicit drug trade in Burma is strongest in remote and conflict-affected ethnic areas of the country. It also notes that drug trafficking-related corruption among mid-level civilian and military officials is rampant, and accuses the Burmese regime of failing to make the fight against illicit drugs a priority.
Thailand has introduced several programs to make hill tribes work in coffee plantations instead of opium, and share the profits to give them an opportunity to earn a living as they are mostly from Burma and do not have the right to work in the country.
Drug rehabilitation costs the government around ($483 million), and is expected to rise furthermore as first time drug abusers is rising by 70% . Public Health Ministry, in collaboration with the Interior Ministry, has launched a campaign that aims to have at least 400,000 drug users join rehabilitation programs in 2012 and help them to be reinserted into society after their treatments.
Tackling drug trafficking and drug abusers’ rehabilitation has been the cross of several Thai governments. Experts believe that punishment alone is not the answer but education from a very young age could be the key to a long term solution.