SINGAPORE has joined South Korea and Japan in warning its citizens against smoking marijuana in countries where it is legal, amid reports that its Southeast Asian neighbours were considering the drug for medical use.
The city-state’s Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) on Friday reiterated its tough stance on the matter, saying any citizen or permanent resident found to have used the drugs overseas would be treated as though he or she abused drugs in Singapore, according to Today Online.
The bureau said it conducts enforcement checks at the Singapore’s checkpoints and will take action on those who tested positive for marijuana use.
Without referring to any country, the bureau said it was aware of “ongoing discussions” over the safety and legality of medical marijuana, or products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient vital for its recreational and medical use.
In September, neighbouring Malaysia’s government said it was looking into amending its laws to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Malaysia’s announcement came after similar ones by Thailand and the Philippines in recent years.
Thailand’s researchers are persuading the military government to allow studies to be conducted on the drug for medical use by May next year. The medical marijuana sector is thriving as a multibillion-dollar industry in Canada, which has recently legalised the drug for recreational purposes.
Canada legalisation of marijuana, also commonly known as cannabis or weed, prompted South Korean and Japanese authorities to warn its citizens living or visiting in Canada against smoking marijuana or risk criminal charges when they return to their home country.
South Korea’s Narcotics Crime Investigation Division said South Korean smokers could face up to five years in prison, even if they consumed the drug abroad.
Cannabis was extremely effective in treating chronic pain, especially for those suffering from multiple-sclerosis, according to a major report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine entitled “The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids”. It is also effective for treating chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting in cancer patients.
Singapore’s (CNB) however, pointed out a literature review done by the Institute of Mental Health affirmed the “addictive” and “harmful” nature of cannabis, and that that it “damages” the brain.
“These findings corroborate our position that cannabis should remain an illicit drug,” it said, adding possession or consumption of cannabis can lead to jail terms of up to 10 years and a fine of up to SGD$20,0000 (US$14,400).
Singapore also imposes the death penalty for the trafficking of drugs.
The bureau said its tough stance on the issue has placed the abuse of drugs at an all-time low, as the number of drug users arrested comprised less than 0.1 percent of the total population.