Singapore's neighbours may legalise marijuana for medical use; CNB warns people about drug abuse

A man is seeing rolling a joint with marijuana. Reuters

After the legalisation of marijuana in Uruguay, Canada and in some US states, reports claimed that Singapore's neighbours could legalise the substance in terms of medical use as early as next year. But to aware the citizen, Singapore's Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) again clarified that the cannabis is still listed as a Class A controlled drug in the First Schedule of the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA).

In a news release, the bureau said that if any Singapore citizen or permanent resident found to have abused controlled drugs overseas will be treated as if he or she had violated the drug law of the country. They also said that the officials will conduct enforcement checks at the checkpoints and will be allowed to take immediate action against those offenders, who have consumed drugs overseas.

Even though CNB did not confirm which country is planning to legalise marijuana, also called as cannabis, pot and weed, the bureau stated that they are aware of "ongoing discussions in some countries on the safety and legality of products (including food) containing tetrahydrocannabinol[1] (THC) for recreational and medical use."

However, as per a Thailand's news outlet 'The Nation,' country's Governmental Pharmaceutical Organisation has started researching on the development of medicines by using drugs, while Malaysia has also started the discussion on the legalisation of marijuana for medical use. The Malaysian Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Xavier Jayakumar had told media last month about the discussion in the cabinet on its medical value as well as about the informal talks on the amendment of drug-related laws.

In addition, the CNB stated, "A literature review conducted by the Institute of Mental Health experts affirmed the addictive and harmful nature of cannabis, and that it damages the brain. There is scant evidence of the safety and efficacy of long-term cannabis use. These findings corroborate our position that cannabis should remain an illicit drug."

Earlier, the Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said that until the scientists can isolate the medical properties of marijuana and claim the drug as a side effect free substance, it cannot be considered as a medical aid.

As per the law, any person could face a maximum jail term of 10 years, or S$20,000 as a fine or both if he or she found guilty for keeping or consuming the cannabis in Singapore. The smugglers, including the exporters and exporters of this illegal substance, could face a death penalty.

This article was first published on October 31, 2018