In October 2018, Canada became the second country in the world to legalise cannabis medicinally and recreationally. The first country to do this was Uruguay and it happened in 2013. However, Singapore shares a different view on cannabis usage. The authorities are taking action against individuals who are found to have consumed cannabis (or any other drugs) overseas. As you can see, the Government wants to eliminate any possibility of cannabis addiction in Singapore.
You Have Been Warned
According to the Central Narcotics Bureau of Singapore (CNB), any Singaporean citizen or permanent resident found to have consumed controlled drugs while overseas will be treated as if he or she had abused that particular drug in Singapore.
The CNB has started conducting random enforcement checks at Singapore’s major checkpoints, including Changi Airport, Tuas Checkpoint, and Woodlands Checkpoint. The bureau will not hesitate to take action against individuals found to have consumed drugs overseas.
If a person is caught for consumption or possession of cannabis in Singapore, he or she may face a jail term of up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to S$20,000. Drug traffickers who are arrested for importing or exporting certain quantities of cannabis may be slapped with the death sentence.
Understanding Singapore’s Strong Stance on Local and Overseas Cannabis Use
While there are reports that Singapore’s neighbouring countries are legalising cannabis for medical applications as early as 2019, the Central Narcotics Bureau has reiterated its tough stance on drugs.
In the CNB’s advisory, it did not refer to any specific country. However, it has stated that it was aware of ongoing discussions in certain countries pertaining to the legality and safety of products that contain tetrahydrocannabinol. It is the active ingredient in cannabis and has been used for medical and recreational applications.
The CNB has also maintained there is negligible evidence of the efficacy and safety of cannabis use over the long term. The bureau sustains this understanding after the Institute of Mental Health affirmed, in its literature review, the harmful and addictive nature of cannabis – long-term cannabis addiction damages the brain. These findings corroborate the CNB’s position that cannabis should remain an illicit drug.
Earlier in September 2018, Singapore’s Law and Home Affairs Minister has stated that the opioid crisis in the U.S. and its growing cannabis problems emphasise why Singaporeans must take a clear-headed and firm approach on drugs and work together to prevent the problem from spiralling out of control.
In addition, cannabis cannot be considered a medical aid in Singapore until its medical properties can be isolated and it can be administered without causing any negative side effects.
You can now see why the CNB is so apprehensive of the legalization of cannabis in Singapore. After all, the country’s approach to drugs has allowed it to remain relatively drug-free. In 2017, the number of drug abusers arrested in Singapore comprised of less than 0.1 per cent of the entire population.
It is also important to keep in mind that legalisation of cannabis does not change the underlying chemistry of the drug and the very real addictions it can cause. Additionally, the legalisation of any drug cannot stop the vicious cycle of addiction.
How is the Situation Like with Singapore’s Neighbours?
In Malaysia, Singapore’s nearest neighbour, talks have begun about legalising cannabis for the benefit of medical advancement. Xavier Jayakumar, the Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources in Malaysia, has mentioned that the Malaysian government are currently looking into the medicinal value of cannabis and may possibly change relevant laws involving medicinal cannabis.
For Thailand, a social buzz has been created recently because the Thai government has in fact approved the legalisation of medicinal cannabis just before the new year. Many reports have even called it the “new year’s gift” that the local junta-appointed parliament is giving to its citizens.
What about Cannabis Legalisation in Other Developed Countries?
In the United States, cannabis legislation is not across the board but based on local state government rulings. Today, 10 states have passed cannabis legislation while 33 other states allow the use of cannabis for medicinal applications. In 2019, more U.S. states are going to approve of the use of marijuana, including Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut.
While previously known as a Schedule 1 drug in the United Kingdom, cannabis is now a Schedule 2 drug, indicating that the country has recognised cannabis as a drug with medicinal uses. Although it does not look as though the United Kingdom will follow in the ways of Canada, being the largest manufacturer of legal cannabis might change things in the future.
Benefits of Cannabis Legalisation
Let’s start about the benefits of legalising the use of cannabis, even if it is only for medicinal usage. Medicinal cannabis has been proved to be helpful in treating a wide range of medical conditions, including:
- Chronic pain
- Appetite loss
- High blood sugar
- … and more.
Next, if cannabis is approved, it will mean that people will be able to access quality cannabis without having to buy illegal cannabis off the streets. As an example, illegal cannabis can be made with unknown substances in it and if a user experiences an overdose, there is an increased risk of health problems due to the lack of knowledge about the unknown substances in illegal cannabis. Simply put, regulated cannabis will help to make it safer for users and also help to dismantle the black market for marijuana.
The economic benefits of legalising cannabis will also not go unnoticed by governments who are considering the legal move. Just as an example, the state of Colorado in United States collected more than $135 million US dollars in taxes and fees on both recreational and medicinal marijuana in 2015 alone.
Potential Negative Consequences of Cannabis Legalisation
Being an addictive drug, it is shown that 1 in 10 users could develop a dependence on marijuana over time. Many anti-cannabis legislation supporters have often thought of cannabis as a gateway drug; it creates a bridge for the user to shift towards hard drugs such as heroin or cocaine.
And just like alcohol, marijuana can affect our judgment. When you use cannabis, it can cause poor coordination and distort your perception. What this means is that if there are existing laws on alcohol consumption and driving, there is then a need to implement another set of laws to deter the consumption of cannabis before driving.
Also, the second-hand smoke that cannabis produces is another issue that needs to be addressed. Many countries have started to regulate tobacco smoking such as Singapore where there are designated smoking zones and heavy taxes placed on cigarette products. If cannabis legislation were to happen, cannabis smoke will be an area of debate as the smoke it produces is akin to tobacco smoke.
Singapore’s Approach to Drug Abuse
Singapore is one of the countries that are known to have a tough stance towards drug abuse. Its Misuse of Drug Act punishes an individual severely for the possession of very small amounts of illegal drugs. An individual will also have to face the death penalty in cases where he or she is found to be in the possession of large amounts of certain illegal drugs.
Stated under Section 17 of the Misuse of Drug Act, an individual is charged with drug trafficking if found with the possession of:
- Cannabis: 15g or more
- Morphine: 3g or more
- Cocaine: 3g or more
- Heroin: 2g or more
- Meth: 25g or more
- Opium: 100g or more
If you are slapped with a drug trafficking charge, you may even face the death penalty if you are convicted of possessing:
- Cannabis: 500g or more
- Morphine: 30g or more
- Cocaine: 30g or more
- Heroin: 15g or more
- Meth: 250g or more
- Opium: 1200g or more
As you can see, under the country’s authoritarian law enforcement culture, illegal drug possession or trafficking is never a laughing matter.
Singapore is Keeping It Safe
From Singapore’s heavy drug penalties, it is clear that the country wants to keep it safe and deter its citizens or foreigners who are entering its geographical boundaries to engage in any form of drug dealing and abuse. Its Preventive Drug Education (PDE) policy focus on taking preventive measures that are set in place by the National Council against Drug Abuse (NCADA) and the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) to maintain a national consensus of zero tolerance on drug abuse.
It is unlikely that Singapore will consider cannabis legislation as we can tell from Singapore’s Law and Home Affairs Minister’s words ” Until scientists can isolate the medical properties of marijuana, and administer it without the side effects of the drug, it cannot be considered a medical aid.”
Due to many other countries legalising the use of cannabis, Singapore finds it apt to send out a direct message about its stance that it does not condone its citizens using cannabis even overseas. This is also to remind its citizens that we should not have the idea that cannabis is safe to use (from the perception of seeing other countries legalising its use) because the truth is that regular use of cannabis can lead to addiction.
When you have developed a dependency on cannabis usage, this will develop into a cannabis addiction which will require cannabis addiction therapy. The goal of cannabis addiction treatment in Singapore is to help cannabis addicts prevent cannabis use triggers or cope with the withdrawal effects of stopping cannabis usage.
A solid cannabis addiction treatment program not only helps cannabis addicts to stop using the drug, but will also help the addict gain important lifestyle management and problem solving tools to prevent a relapse after the cannabis addiction treatment period. That is why cannabis addiction therapy will often include counselling, detox, support group sessions, and even alternative therapies such as art therapy, yoga sessions, massage sessions, and more.
The Cabin Singapore Can Help Cannabis Addicts in Singapore
At The Cabin Singapore, we understand that cannabis addiction is real. Just like the use of other illegal substances, the regular use of cannabis can alter certain chemical production in the brain, causing the cannabis addict to experience adverse side effects that can impact the quality of life for the addict.
As part of The Cabin Addiction Services Group which is a leading addiction treatment provider globally, The Cabin Singapore utilises a proven method of treatment where we have experienced high success rates of helping cannabis addicts turn their lives around. Our treatment programmes feature the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), the 12-Step programme, and mindfulness to help cannabis addicts stop the use of cannabis.
We offer comprehensive and effective outpatient addiction treatment services where you do not need to commit to residential rehab and it will take approximately 6 months to complete. As we all know, no two cannabis addictions are the same, so we will develop a custom treatment programme for you or a loved one where the treatment schedule can be modified to suit your needs.
If you think that cannabis treatment will be expensive, think again. We are known for helping individuals access cannabis addiction treatment in Singapore at affordable prices, and you can also check if your insurance coverage can help to cover part of the treatment costs so that the addiction therapy cost can be decreased.
For those who are considering an inpatient addiction treatment approach to cannabis addiction, you can also consider The Cabin Chiangmai, which is a stellar residential rehab centre for treating various types of addictions. Look at our success rates to understand why The Cabin Chiangmai is a top residential rehab facility for many Singaporeans and foreigners alike.
Contact us at The Cabin Singapore if you want to know more about our outpatient treatment services. Remember that the Singaporean government is taking a zero-tolerance policy towards cannabis use, even when you are using overseas, so the sooner you can kick cannabis addiction, the better it is for you to steer clear of facing the harsh penalties in the country. All patient information will be kept confidential so do not hesitate to talk to us today when you want a helping hand in breaking the shackles of cannabis addiction.