Shifting focus to drug rehab

KUALA LUMPUR: Treatment and rehabilitation, rather than punishment, will be the focus of amendments to a drug law.

Amendments to the Drug Dependants (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act, tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, seek to differentiate the interpretation of a drug- or substance-dependent person and a substance misuser.

The amendments, tabled by Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, aim to widen the scope of treatment and rehabilitation for addicts.

Section 6(a) will empower a Magistrate to allow a drug or substance misuser to undergo treatment and rehabilitation on the recommendation of a rehabilitation officer, with the individual allowed to make representations.

Drug- or substance-dependent individuals will also be eligible for this programme, and they can all apply to undergo voluntary treatment.

Based on test results, a rehabilitation officer will decide whether the individual will undergo treatment and rehabilitation at a rehabilitation centre, service centre or private rehabilitation centre for a period, not exceeding two years, or within the community under the supervision of an officer.Guardians or those who have reasons to believe that a minor is drug- or substance-dependent or a misuser can also apply for the minor to receive treatment and rehabilitation under the proposed amendments to Section 9.

The minor must appear before a rehabilitation officer.

If the rehabilitation officer so requires, the minor’s parent or guardian shall also attend the treatment and rehabilitation programme together.

Guardians or parents who fail to comply with the conditions imposed will be liable to a fine of up to RM5,000.

Under proposed amendments to Section 21, the period of imprisonment or detention will be deemed the period of treatment and rehabilitation within the community or at a rehabilitation or service centre.

If ordered to undergo treatment, individuals can serve the remainder of their prison or detention terms at a rehabilitation or service centre.

“During the period of imprisonment or detention, a drug or substance dependent or drug or substance misuser shall undergo treatment and rehabilitation conducted by the rehabilitation officer,” the Bill read.

The scope of substances covered will include psychotropic substances specified under the Third Schedule of the Poisons Act 1952 and toluene.

The Bill is expected to be tabled for the second reading in the current Parliament meeting.

On June 30, Saifuddin said that individuals who voluntarily come to rehabilitation centres for treatment will be directly referred to National Anti-Drugs Agency rehabilitation officers, who will conduct urine tests and determine whether they require treatment.

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