Thaniya’s murder in Udon Thani is yet another tragic example of the unintended consequences of drugs being illegal. On April 3, Prawut Chantasut, a known drug user, fatally stabbed his neighbour without provocation while being high on drugs. His drug-induced rage further led him to destroy his own house, after which he died from his injuries. While officials may blame drug-induced crimes on the substances used, what they fail to acknowledge is that the criminalization of drugs led to more severe outcomes than had they been regulated through legal markets. There is no doubt that such tragedies could be avoided if drugs were legalised, and access to quality-controlled products would ensure a safer environment for everyone. In Samut Prakan, residents who have been the victims of multiple robberies are pleading with the burglar to show mercy on them. Such incidents occur because of the high prices of illegal substances that are pushed by a prohibitionist society that only enriches those in the black market. If these substances were available legally, they could be subject to regulations and quality control, bringing prices down and making them inaccessible to young people and others who would abuse them. The case of Kim Hyeongil, a Korean visitor who reportedly lied to his parents that he had been kidnapped, shows the lengths people would go to satisfy their urge for drugs. He overstayed his visa and was living with his girlfriend in Thailand, where he spent his days consuming drugs. His parents had reportedly refused to send him money previously when he asked so he resorted to creating a story that would prompt them to send him money for his lifestyle in Thailand. Cannabis is set to be legalised in Thailand from June 9, 2022, but with extracts and hash still banned, one wonders if a broader scope would be allowed soon. It’s about time that drugs are recognized by the authorities to be a public health concern that needs to be addressed systematically instead of punishing users, a policy that clearly hasn’t worked. It’s time to regulate and tax drug markets to take them out of the hands of criminals and prevent drug-related crimes like those we’ve seen today.
As a disclaimer, the opinions expressed in this article don’t reflect those of High Thailand.