Thailand bans caffeine

No more coffee or tea in the country's northern provinces, in an attempt to curb methamphetamine manufacturers.

Published March 15, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

Six provinces in northern Thailand will be caffeine-free within a month because of a new law banning the substance, according to the Associated Press.

It's all because of methamphetamine: For those without a lab in the backyard, caffeine is an ingredient often found in the illegal drug. In recent years, methamphetamines have become a bigger problem in Thailand than heroin, which has enjoyed immense popularity in Southeast Asia, where opium grows readily in the subtropical environment. While Thai officials believe next-door-neighbor Myanmar is the major source of opium and heroin -- and now methamphetamines -- Myanmar officials say it is Thailand that is to blame. The government-run newspaper, New Light of Myanmar, recently accused Thailand of being a source for the chemicals used in the manufacture of the illegal stimulant.

Thai authorities denied the allegation, but have decided to ban caffeine in the northern provinces, which butt up against Myanmar and are a popular trade route for narcotics.

So where does this leave the intrepid traveler? Sans caffeine, I'm afraid. But cheer up -- you can still embark on a Wizard of Oz-like trek through the region's poppy fields of dreams.

By J.A. Getzlaff

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