Better protection for children as changes to drug law kick in

To better protect children and youths from the harms of drugs, it will be an offence for an adult who has drugs or drug-related utensils to knowingly or recklessly leave them within reach of a child below 16.
To better protect children and youths from the harms of drugs, it will be an offence for an adult who has drugs or drug-related utensils to knowingly or recklessly leave them within reach of a child below 16.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Hooking someone up with a drug trafficker, knowing that a transaction is likely to take place, will be a criminal offence from today.

The new provision under the Misuse of Drugs Act will kick in along with a host of other changes that aim to tackle behaviours that promote or facilitate drug use. They will also increase protection for children and support for drug abusers.

It will be a crime to teach or give information to another person on how to cultivate, manufacture, consume or traffic controlled drugs, knowing or having reason to believe that the latter intends to carry out these activities.

This offence will carry a maximum jail term of 10 years for first-time offenders. Repeat offenders will be given at least two years in jail that can go up to 10 years.

A day after amendments to the Act were approved on Jan 15, another key provision went into force that directs hardcore drug abusers - those caught for the third time or more - to the drug rehabilitation centre (DRC) instead of long-term imprisonment.

Previously, only first-or second-time abusers were sent to the DRC, and those who were caught for the third time or more were given sentences of at least five years in jail and three strokes of the cane.

On April 1, the first tranche of provisions under the Act went into force, introducing mandatory minimum punishments for drug consumption and increased powers for law enforcement.

 
 
 
 

The second tranche of provisions will make it a crime to disseminate or publish any information related to drug taking, cultivating, making and trafficking. This could result in up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine for first-time offenders.

To better protect children and youth from the harms of drugs, it will be criminal for an adult who has drugs or drug-related utensils to knowingly or recklessly leave them within reach of a child below 16.

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

These offences carry a maximum jail term of 10 years for first-time convictions. For repeat offenders, there will be a mandatory jail term of at least two years, with a maximum of 10 years.

Under the provisions, it will also be compulsory for parents and guardians of young drug abusers who are under supervision orders to attend counselling. If they do not do so with no reasonable excuse, they could face a fine of up to $5,000 or be ordered by the court to attend the sessions.

The changes will also increase the maximum periods of detention that can be served at the DRC from three years to four, to cater to high-risk repeat drug abusers who may require longer periods of rehabilitation.

The maximum supervision periods that abusers can undergo after release will also be extended from two years to five to ensure that they receive sustained support during their reintegration into society.

Under the provisions, it will also be possible for abusers, who test positive for drugs based on results of hair analysis, to be subject to mandatory rehabilitation and supervision. Hair analysis was introduced in 2012 as it can detect drug use over a longer time span than urine tests, which can detect only drugs consumed within the preceding week.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2019, with the headline 'Better protection for children as changes to drug law kick in'. Print Edition | Subscribe