BANGKOK — A small Buddhist temple in northern Thailand has been left without monks after the entire monastery was found to have been using methamphetamine, according to local officials.
Following orders to investigate drug use in Phetchabun province, the sheriff and village headman in Bung Sam Phan subdistrict, some 150 miles north of Bangkok, poked around schools, factories and temples in search of drug addicts and dealers so they could be sent for rehabilitation.
“As a community leader, I was frightened because I never thought the monks would be addicted to drugs,” said Sungyut Namburi, the village headman. “I never thought that drugs would spread to temples.”
Monks are revered figures in Thai culture; in Bangkok’s metro system, seats are reserved for them alongside pregnant and elderly individuals. Particularly in rural areas outside Bangkok, monks are trusted advisers, often serving as counselors and role models to the community.