A Buddhist temple in northern Thailand has been left uninhabited after all four of its resident monks tested positive for drugs.

According to Agence France-Presse, the monks were sent to a drug rehabilitation center after allegedly testing positive for methamphetamines.

However, the monks' exit is causing distress among the local community, which relies on the temple for religious practices and worship.

"The temple is now empty of monks, and nearby villagers are concerned they cannot do any merit-making," district official Boonlert Thintapthai told AFP, referring to a practice that involves donating food to monks as a good deed.

A local monastic chief is currently assigning other monks to the temple to assist its worshippers while the temple remains vacant.

According to a report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the use of methamphetamine has spiked in Thailand, with seizures of meth reaching an all-time high in 2021.

Authorities speculate that the drug's low cost on the street may be why Thailand has experienced an increase in meth use.

According to AFP, methamphetamine pills are sold on the street for approximately 20 baht, which currently converts to roughly 58 cents USD.

"The drop in the price of crystal methamphetamine is particularly concerning, as it has become much more accessible and available to those that could not afford it before," UNODC regional synthetic drugs analyst Kavinvadee Suppapongtevasakul said in a press release.

According to AFP, addressing the methamphetamine crisis is a top priority for government officials in Thailand.

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