KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is set to introduce a new law to decriminalise minor drug offences in a bid to solve the issue of overcrowding in prisons, says Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.
According to the Home Minister, the new legislation would be called the misuse of drugs and substances (Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation).
"We are expecting this Act to be tabled this year," said Saifuddin in Parliament during Question Time on Wednesday (March 8).
Saifuddin noted that under the present Dangerous Drugs Act, Section 15(1) states that individuals found with drugs would be subjected to a RM5,000 fine or two years jail.
"The government’s plan now is to change the law," added Saifuddin.
Saifuddin said there would be two types of drug rehabilitation programmes, one involving the National Anti-Drugs Agency (AADK), the community, or both.
"Rehabilitation under the AADK will take two years and the user comes out and joins another programme for two years in the community.
"If the drug user is sent to rehabilitation programmes in the community, it will be three years," said Saifuddin.
Saifuddin was responding to Wong Chen (PH-Subang) who asked about the government’s commitment in decriminalising minor drug offences to reduce the prison population.
Saifuddin said presently, there were 39 prisons nationwide with a combined population of 74,459 inmates.
However, prisons only have a capacity of 65,000 inmates.
"We hope that when this Act is introduced, we will be able to reduce overcrowding in prisons," added Saifuddin.