By LeeWEpstein

October 30, 2019

The Malaysian government has announced that it will set up a special committee to move forward as quickly as possible on legislative amendments to decriminalize drug use, according to Minister of Youth and Sports Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman.

“My ministry is involved in this area because drugs can kill the future of young people,” he said at a press conference in the Parliament lobby today.

“Our position is to distinguish between drug addicts in need of treatment and drug traffickers. Drug addicts are not criminals and should not be sent to prison.

Syed Saddiq did not give any time interval for the committee’s work, saying it will be used to coordinate the various stakeholders, including the local Ministry of Interior and the Chief Secretary, to gather as much information as possible. He also indicated that it was important for young people to have a second chance in life for this type of offense and not be ostracized by society.

“So far, what we have is superficial, and not based on facts. Of course, we still need to look at the rules and legal issues such as the amount of drug possession that needs to be discussed.

“This case concerns young people. Unfortunately, the majority of them come from disadvantaged backgrounds and, once arrested, they can no longer provide bail. They can simply plead guilty and are imprisoned,” he said.

Last June, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad announced that the government was considering removing penalties for possession of drugs for personal use. He clarified that this was not an initiative to legalize the distribution or trafficking of drugs.

Malaysia currently has some of the toughest drug laws in Southeast Asia. However, the death penalty was abolished in 2018, particularly for cannabis-related crimes.

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