May 15, 2019
This report highlights the shifting drug policy landscape in Asia, with a special focus on (1) the violent crackdown on drug users and sellers in the Philippines, (2) Thailand's move toward an alternative approach of reducing criminal sanctions for drug use and improving access to medication treatment and needle exchange, and (3) China's emergence as a major source of many new chemical precursors and drugs that are exported outside Asia.
Changing patterns in drug use and supply can affect the well-being and development of Asian countries in many ways: The burden of disease from injection drug use, overreliance on the criminal justice system, and rise of drug-related crime can impede economic, environmental, and social development. Historically, countries in Asia have addressed illicit drug use and supply with harsh punishments, including compulsory treatment and the death penalty. The region has long espoused the goal of creating a drug-free society, a goal that has been abandoned in other parts of the globe for being infeasible.
This report describes the illicit drug policy landscape for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) + 3 countries (China, Japan, and South Korea), which account for about 30 percent of the world's population. The authors also present three case studies on the shifting drug policy landscape in Asia: (1) the violent crackdown on people who use or sell drugs in the Philippines, (2) Thailand's move from a similar crackdown toward an alternative approach of reducing criminal sanctions for drug use and improving access to medication treatment and needle exchange, and (3) China's emergence as a major source of many new chemical precursors and drugs, like fentanyl, that are exported outside Asia.
Drug Use and Drug-Related Disease
Drug and Precursor Chemical Production
Drug Policies in Asia
Recommendations for Improving Research and Policies in the Region