Thailand breaks away from Southeast Asia’s brutally punitive drug policies

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In a region that stands out for having some of the most brutally punitive drug policies in the world, it was astonishing to witness Thailand become the first country in Asia to legalise cannabis. Until recently, Thailand had one of the largest prison populations in Southeast Asia, and one of the world’s highest rates of female incarceration, with most inmates convicted for drug offences. It also imposes the death penalty for certain drug offences (although there has not been an execution for a drug offence for over 10 years), has waged an anti-drug campaign that enabled the extrajudicial killing of at least 2,400 people in 2003, and arbitrarily detains thousands of people in compulsory detention centres for drug users in the name of drug rehabilitation.

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