Burmese Government Drug Policy ‘Ineffective’: Report

Recently taken photo a poppy plantation in the Border Guard Force's controlled area of Waingmaw township

The NLD’s drug plan in theory focuses on treatment and rehabilitation; in practice, it is implemented through arrests of drug users, a new report says.

A drug policy put into place by Burma’s government more than a year ago has not been effective, according to a report by the Drug Policy Advocacy Group published this week.

“Analysis On A Decade-Long Drug Policy” was launched at a press conference in Myitkyina on Monday. Even though the National League for Democracy (NLD) government’s current anti-drug plan—in theory—focuses on medical treatment and rehabilitation, in practice, the issue has been addressed through arrests of drug users.

“Respective civil society organizations and other social organizations jointly drafted the drug policy. But it's ineffective in its practical implementation,” Dr. Nang Pan Ei Kham, the associate coordinator of the Drug Policy Advocacy Group, said in the press conference. “In policy, we can see medical treatment and rehabilitation. In practice, we can see that the most implementation they have done is around arrests.”

According to the report, opium poppy plantations have decreased following the start of the new drug policy in February 2018, but production of methamphetamine tablets has greatly increased.

Debate on Myanmar drug policy
Myitung Kyang Bawm, who is in charge of the Chang Mu Rehabilitation Center in Kachin State, estimates that a small minority of rural farmers in the state grow poppies, but that large-scale agriculture projects are responsible for most drug cultivation.

"According to our ground level observations, rich people are growing poppies for business. Poor farmers grow only about 10 percent of all poppy plantations in Kachin State,” he said, adding that most opium crops are found in Tanai and Putao townships, Kambaiti sub-township, and Gwe Moe—also known as Wutmaw in Kachin—which is located in a Border Guard Force-controlled area of Waingmaw Township.

Alliance Myanmar supported the launch of Monday’s report, which aims to contribute to the drafting of a better drug policy in Burma. An international summit will take place in Vietnam later this month with discussions on addressing drug issues globally.