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Govt reviewing drug dependency law

July 1, 2013

Asean's desire to be a drug-free region by 2015 was not very realistic, said Minister in Prime Minister’s Department, Nancy Shukri

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is moving towards decriminalisation of drugs to make it easier and more open for drug dependants to seek treatment and rehabilitation.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri said the government’s policy at present had shifted more to treating drug users than prosecuting them

She said Asean’s desire to be a drug-free region by 2015 was not very realistic, but noted that a change in approaches by the authorities could help to reduce the number of drug dependants.

“There is no such thing as drug-free but we can control it by changing or shifting our policy.

“Instead of looking at drug dependants as criminals, we should actually look at them as patients. Instead of bringing them to jail, we bring them to the clinic,” she told reporters after attending the High-Level Panel Meeting on Drug Policy and Public Health organised by the Global Commision on Drug, here, yesterday.

The discourse was held in conjunction with the 7th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference 2013 on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, held here.

Nancy said Malaysia had in place a good policy and initiatives in treating drug users but these were not very publicly known.

Among the initiatives, she noted, was the needle exchange programme for drug users introduced in 2006, which today had seen a reduction of HIV/AIDS infection through intravenous drug administration.

“Others include the harm reduction programme and upgrading of the rehabilitation centres into Cure & Care Clinics.

“We are already there (decriminalising drugs) but we are not making it loud enough for the people to understand that we have this policy. Our policy has not been established in a formal way,” she said.

Police changing approach

Nancy said the government was also currently reviewing laws related to drugs in this country, including the Drug Dependants (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act 1983.

“The Law Reform Committee is now in the process of discussing to amend that particular provision (Section 4(1)(b) of the Act which allows the detention of a suspected drug dependant for up to 14 days for a test to be conducted).”

Earlier, Narcotics Crime Investigation Department deputy director III, Jamaludin Kudin said the police were also shifting their approach in combating drug abuse by focusing on curtailing drug trafficking.

“Our statistics show that we are focusing 70 per cent on drug users and 30 per cent on the drug dealers. We are changing that now,” he said.

-Bernama


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