New drug laws to tackle 'contaminative behaviours'

MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS AND LAW K. SHANMUGAM.
MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS AND LAW K. SHANMUGAM.

Showing another person how to consume, procure or traffic drugs will be an offence, under changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act passed in Parliament yesterday.

This new category of offences tackles "contaminative behaviours" that may not meet the current definition of trafficking or abetment, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said during the debate on the Bill.

"(But) they contribute to the spread of drug abuse. In that way, they harm others," he said.

The new offences will tackle acts of contamination such as introducing a person to a trafficker if one knows or has reason to believe that the person intends to buy or consume drugs the trafficker is likely to supply them with.

It will also be a crime to teach, instruct or provide information to another person on the consumption, cultivation and trafficking of drugs, among other activities, knowing or having reason to believe that the person intends to carry out the drug activity.

This carries a maximum of 10 years in jail with no mandatory minimum sentence for the first conviction.

Subsequent convictions will carry a mandatory minimum jail term of two years.

CAUSING HARM TO OTHERS

They contribute to the spread of drug abuse. In that way, they harm others.

MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS AND LAW K. SHANMUGAM, on showing another person how to consume, procure or traffic drugs.

The minister said: "Supposing the perpetrator has no knowledge of the recipient's intention to commit a drug activity. Nevertheless, the perpetrator has still caused harm.

"He has spread information on the carrying out of drug activities."

The new law will also criminalise the disseminating or publishing of information on the carrying out of drug-related activities, making it an offence punishable with up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine for first-time convictions.

The minister said: "This can cover a range of behaviour, from the irresponsible - like posting information on how to manufacture drugs on social media where others can see it - to the downright malicious - such as trying to teach and influence friends into taking drugs.

"We have to try and stop such behaviours."

 
 
 
 
 

However, there will be valid defences, including legitimate purposes relating to the administration of justice, science, medicine, education and art, not intended to promote drug offending, said Mr Shanmugam.

The changes will also criminalise acts which expose children to drugs and those that permit young persons to consume drugs.

To better protect children, it will be an offence for an adult who possesses drugs or drug-related utensils to knowingly or recklessly leave them within reach of a child.

It will also be an offence for an adult to allow, or not take reasonable steps to prevent, a person under 21 from taking drugs that are in the adult's possession.

Under the amendments to the law, it will also be manda-tory for parents and guardians of young drug abusers who are under supervision orders to attend drug counselling.

If the parents or guardians refuse to be involved in the child's counselling with no reasonable excuse, they can be fined or ordered by the court to attend the counselling sessions. This new law is expected to go into force by the first half of this year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2019, with the headline 'New drug laws to tackle 'contaminative behaviours''. Print Edition | Subscribe