Thai Temple Cleared of All Its Monks After Drug Test

Buddhist foursome in Phetchabun province came up positive for meth, a major issue in Thailand
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2022 9:40 AM CST
Thai Temple Cleared of All Its Monks After Drug Test
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/nitimongkolchai)

Thailand has been trying to crack down on drug trafficking, especially when it comes to the methamphetamine pouring in from neighboring Myanmar, and drug testing has been a part of the nation's campaign against it. The latest group to be busted, however, is a bit of a surprise—and one that has cleared out a small Buddhist temple in the middle of the country. "The temple is now empty of monks," Boonlert Thintapthai, an official with the Bung Sam Phan district in Thailand's Phetchabun province, tells AFP, revealing that four of the holy men, including the head of the temple, have tested positive for meth.

Although it's not clear why the cops descended on the temple, they administered urine tests to the resident monks on Monday, which they all failed, then "removed" them from the temple, per the BBC. India Today notes that the monks have also been defrocked, meaning they've been stripped of the authority to perform their religious duties. Thintapthai says the monks have been brought to a drug clinic to undergo rehab. That's good news for the monks but not for locals, who are now stressing that they won't be able to carry out their "merit-making," which is carrying out a good deed to ensure a "protective force" around them.

In this case, that good deed involved bringing food to the monks. Thintapthai assures residents that regional authorities are working with a nearby monastic leader to recruit new monks to the temple to replace the defrocked monks. The BBC and AFP note that meth, which sells for between 55 cents and $1.40 per pill on the streets of Thailand, has become a major issue in recent years, flowing in from Myanmar's Shan state via Laos. The United Nations' Office on Drugs and Crime reports that last year was a record-breaking year in Thailand in terms of meth seizures. (Read more monks stories.)

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