Police have promised to launch a new strategy to control narcotics, taking a more health- and development-centred approach than their previous punitive action plans.

According to Police Colonel Zaw Lin Tun, the new narcotics control policy could be released as soon as April 2017.

The new policy will address the problems of increased drug consumption and production in Myanmar.

“Poppy cultivation decreased under the previous policy but it didn’t have much success in reducing drug production and consumption, which have increased due to economic and social problems,” Pol Col Zaw Lin Tun said at a September 21 seminar in the capital.

Drafting of the new policy is expected to take around eight months. The project will be financially supported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

UNODC officials have pushed for drug policy reform to more effectively target traffickers and organised crime networks.

“Input will be sought from overseas specialists in designing the draft. We will also invite the participation of interested NGOs through advertisements in the newspapers,” Pol Col Zaw Lin Tun said.

At the seminar, Narcotics Control Central Unit chair and Minister for Home Affairs Lieutenant General Kyaw Swe stressed the need for a retooling of the policy.

“Drug consumption is occurring all over the country. Crimes committed by young people under the influence of drugs are increasing,” he said.

A road-map for the design of the new policy has already been developed and the minister has pledged his support for its implementation.

Another seminar will be held in February of next year to provide an update on the policy’s development, which will be followed by a third and final seminar, scheduled for April 2017, where it will be released.

Myanmar remains the world’s second-largest producer of opium, feeding a vast market in China. About 90 percent of all opium poppy cultivation in the Golden Triangle area, which includes parts of Thailand, Laos and Shan State, can be traced back to Myanmar.

The country also manufactures an ever-increasing number of methamphetamines, which are now reportedly available in every district across the country, with a particular increase in northern Shan State. Quantities of methamphetamines seized in East and Southeast Asia almost quadrupled between 2009 and 2014.

Link: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/22701-new-drug-policy-in-the-works.html