Law against designer drugs known to give abusers a 'legal high' takes effect on May 1

So-called "legal highs", or synthetic drugs which mimic the effects of controlled drugs like cocaine and amphetamines, will become as illegal and attract the same penalties from May 1, said the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) on Wednesday. -- ST
So-called "legal highs", or synthetic drugs which mimic the effects of controlled drugs like cocaine and amphetamines, will become as illegal and attract the same penalties from May 1, said the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) on Wednesday. -- ST PHOTO: LIM YAN LIANG

So-called "legal highs", or synthetic drugs which mimic the effects of controlled drugs like cocaine and amphetamines, will become as illegal and attract the same penalties from May 1, said the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) on Wednesday.

Known collectively as New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), they are made by slightly modifying the molecular structure of Class A controlled drugs, making a new drug with similar effects which can elude national and international bans.

This means that from Thursday, those convicted of abusing any NPS can be jailed up to 10 years, fined up to $20,000, or both. Those found guilty of trafficking such substances will face a minimum of five years' jail and five strokes of the cane.

Singapore's beefed up drug laws saw a new Fifth Schedule take effect last May, which allows the authorities to temporarily list such substances, granting CNB officers the power to seize them even before they are permanently banned.

They include synthetic cannabinoids, which imitate marijuana; and phenethylamines, which act like traditional amphetamines.

There are currently 11 types of compounds under the Fifth Schedule, with over a hundred specific examples listed, that will become controlled drugs as of Thursday.

yanliang@sph.com.sg