Deputy Minister: Home Ministry still discussing proposal to decriminalise drug addiction, possession for personal use

KUALA LUMPUR: The proposal to decriminalise drug addiction and possession for personal use is still at the ministry's discussion level and will be decided soon, says Deputy Home Minister Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman (pic).

He told the Dewan Rakyat that the issue was highlighted since 2017 based on the feedback from related non-governmental organisations while reviewing all current treatment and rehabilitative programmes under the National Anti-Drugs Agency (AADK) and the Health Ministry.

"Recently, we held a meeting chaired by the Home Minister discussing the proposal to decriminalise drug addiction and possession (for personal use).

"It is still at the discussion level and we will decide as soon as possible," he told Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali (PH-Bagan Serai), who asked the reason why it has yet to adopt medical-assisted therapy and decriminalising drug addiction and possession for personal use instead of allocating more funds to build rehabilitation centres.

Mohd Azis said the government offers two types of psycho-social intervention treatment modules through AADK, including providing treatment at cure and care rehabilitation centres and clinics that uses its own cure and care modules and therapeutic community treatment.

He added that AADK would provide treatment in the community through its cure and care service centre and its social integration centre.

"Through this community programme which involves the participation of NGOs, the government successfully saved costs by providing services to 53,363 clients under the programme compared to 6,000 people that received treatment through institutions," he said.

According to Mohd Azis, the Ministry spent an average of RM35 per person to rehabilitate a drug addict per day and it would cost about RM1,050 per month on average.

"In the implementation of 'harm reduction' programmes at the primary health level, health clinics have been given easier access to methadone replacement therapy.

"AADK's role is in assisting the Health Ministry in terms of psychosocial intervention programmes to address drug abuse, but medical-assisted therapy is not the only main method to help drug abuse.

"The success of such programmes is supported through psychosocial and psycho-spiritual initiatives," he added.

He said the budget allocated to purchase urine drug testing strips last year was RM500,000.

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