A Booming Meth Trade Challenges Southeast Asia’s Approach to Drug Policy

A Booming Meth Trade Challenges Southeast Asia’s Approach to Drug Policy
A Taang National Liberation army officer walking through a poppy field in northern Shan state, Myanmar, Jan. 30, 2014 (AP photo by Gemunu Amarasinghe).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series about national drug policies in various countries around the world.

On a balcony in the heart of downtown Bangkok, Thailand’s sprawling capital, Jirasak Sirpramong smokes cigarettes while discussing his experiences with methamphetamine, a drug he has been using for 25 years. “I love it,” he says, “because it makes my brain so clear.”

His manner is easy and open as he patiently answers my questions in the suffocating heat of Bangkok’s hot season, exacerbated by the mass of concrete that surrounds us. When I ask him if his feelings toward the drug have changed after so many years spent using it, he is adamant. “No, it hasn’t changed. It’s my life,” he adds. “I love it. Nothing’s changed.”

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