Phuket: Where the streets are paved with ‘ice’
The Phuket News
23 July 2017
News of the major crystal meth drug bust this week with 7.5 kilos of ya
ice seized in a condo north of Phuket Town was disturbing. It wasn’t
the volume of drugs seized, or even the claim that the two main
suppliers had confessed that they had shifted 54kg of the drug in
The price of
crystal meth (ya ice) in Phuket has plunged, causing concern among
police of just how much of the drug is on the island. Photo: The
It was the price.
Phuket Provincial Police Commander Gen Teeraphol Thipjaroen noted, “The
price of ya ice has decreased from approximately B1 million per
kilogram down to B140,000.” ($5,275.129 CDN)
Like any business, increased efficiencies in production techniques and
delivery networks reduce costs over time for producers who can then
afford to lower prices, but to appreciate where we are now with ya ice,
let’s do the math.
At B1mn per kilo, that’s B1,000 a gram, or B250 per 250mg “hit”. That
was already a lot cheaper than a bottle of gut-rot whiskey at a local
entertainment establishment, for those wiling to take the risk. If Gen
Teeraphol’s intel is accurate, that price has fallen to B140,000 per
kilo, or B140 per gram. That’s B35 per 250mg “hit”, the same price as a
can of beer. That’s not even pocket change.
In one way that’s kind of good news. It means that Phuket’s per capita
usage rate has hit its head on the ceiling. Whatever the number of
people in Phuket who use ice, the suppliers have more than matched
The bad news is that any decent entrepreneur will now seek new markets,
new demographics, new people to sell their drugs to. Also, the appeal
of the drug being so cheap will entice other people to try it as it is
now so common and easily available in Phuket. For the price of ice to
fall so dramatically, the fear is that the island is being flooded with
drugs and there is so much ice on the streets that dealers have to cut
prices to shift it.
It also means that of Thailand’s decade-long “War on Drugs” policy has
failed miserably and perhaps it's time to try something different.
Recent discourse by high-ranking government officials, most notably
Justice Minister Gen Paiboon Khumchaya, have explored the option of
taking a public health approach to drug use and putting addicts in
treatment rather than in jail. So why not give that a try?
In the meantime, if you see a crazy driver out there, steer clear. It
may not be a booze-fuelled tirade you’re witnessing, but a glimpse of
the ya ice epidemic lurking under the skin of Phuket’s community.
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