New law to treat and not punish light drug abusers

PUTRAJAYA: Amendments to the law to decriminalise substance abuse and extend treatment to drug addicts are in its final stages before being tabled in Parliament in the coming months, says Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

The Home Minister said that following a discussion with the Cabinet, the proposal was given the thumbs up and several areas of the law will be studied in its last phase.

He said this involved discussions between the Home and Health Ministries, which are expected to be carried out in a meeting next month chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Saifuddin said the new changes in the law would enable the authorities to treat drug addiction as if it was a disease and not prosecute the users.

He said the amendments were meant to help light drug users and not individuals involved in serious drug-related crimes such as trafficking narcotics.

“Cases of substance abuse add burden to police work. An investigation has to be initiated before the user is taken to court and faces a jail sentence. The prisons become congested as a result.

“Under the new law, drug users will be treated for their addiction, especially for those who voluntarily come forward for treatment.

“Why punish them when they have chosen to give themselves up? The new law will make a huge impact and be a game changer in facilitating the work of the National Anti-Drugs Agency,” he added.

The minister said this after launching the “Tak Payah” (No Need) anti-drug campaign at the Home Ministry’s monthly meeting here yesterday.

The slogan for the campaign is “Tak Payah, Tak Nak” (No Need, Don’t Want).

According to Saifuddin, the campaign was launched to commemorate the Anti-Drugs Day between February and June annually.

He said the campaign targets all groups vulnerable to drug abuse and the slogan was a call to reject all forms of substance abuse.

Saifuddin said the four-pronged approach of the campaign is awareness and rejecting drugs, knowing its dangers, preventing and educating high-risk groups as well as promoting positive living.

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