Parliament: Dissemination of information on consumption of controlled drugs tabled as an offence

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter
A flowering cannabis plant. (Reuters file photo)

Several new drug-related offences look set to be introduced following the tabling of a new Bill in Parliament on Monday (19 November).

Among the proposed crimes under the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2018 – introduced for a First Reading – is the dissemination or publication of any information relating to the cultivation, manufacture, consumption, trafficking, import or export of controlled drugs. The suggested maximum penalty for a first conviction under the new law is five years’ jail and a $10,000 fine.

Another proposed crime is teaching, instructing or providing information to another person on how to cultivate, manufacture, consume, traffic, import or export controlled drugs. The suggested penalty for first-time convictions is up to 10 years’ jail.

In a press release, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said valid defences to these two proposed crimes would include “legitimate purposes relating to the administration of justice, science, medicine, education and art not intended to promote drug offending”.

The Bill also proposes to penalise adults who recklessly leave drugs or drug utensils that are within easy reach by children.

Those who knowingly let young persons consume drugs, or do not take reasonable steps to prevent a young person below 21 from consuming drugs in their possession, could face up to 10 years jail for a first conviction.

New regime for drug rehabilitation

Under the proposed changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act, a person arrested for drug consumption for the first time who is assessed to be at low risk of reoffending will be put on a non-custodial supervision order.

Those who are found to be at moderate or high risk of reoffending, or arrested for the second time or more time, and who do not commit any other crimes, will be sent to the Drug Rehabilitation Centre (DRC), where they undergo rehabilitation programmes of varying intensity and duration.

Currently, drug abusers who are arrested for the first and second time are sent to the DRC, while those arrested for the third time are subject to a long-term imprisonment regime.

The Bill also proposed to raise the maximum period of detention in the DRC from three years currently to four years, to cater to high-risk repeat drug abusers who may require longer detentions for rehabilitation, said MHA.

After offenders complete their treatment and rehabilitation at the DRC, they will go through a Community-Based Programme (CBP), where they can be sent to a halfway house, on day release from the DRC, or at home with electronic-tagging.

Upon the completion of the CBP, abusers will progress to the supervision phase, under which they are required to report regularly to the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) for urine or hair testing. The Bill proposes to raise the maximum period of supervision from two years currently to five years.

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