Written Replies to Parliamentary Questions

Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Cannabis Abuse in Singapore by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 28 January 2016


Dr Lim Wee Kiak: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how many people have been arrested in Singapore for cannabis abuse over the past three years; (b) what is the age and gender breakdown of those arrested; (c) what plans are there to step up the anti-drug campaign on the dangers of cannabis abuse especially among the youth; (d) how long does it take to rehabilitate a cannabis abuser; and (e) whether a student abuser's school/institution will be alerted to look out for other abusers.


1. The number of persons arrested for cannabis abuse has been rising in the past 3 years as follows: 142 (2012), 186 (2013) and 187 (2014). 94% of those arrested were male and 57% were below 30 years of age.

2. While our domestic drug situation remains under control, we have noticed an increasing number of cannabis abusers arrested.  Many are young and are new drug abusers. This is an area of concern. The Ministry and Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) will step up our efforts to tackle this. First, we have targeted our preventive drug education efforts at youths. CNB engages schools and educational institutions regularly to conduct anti-drug events and roadshows to inform students on the harms of drug abuse. We have increased our use of social media to reach out to youths. A study done by the Task Force on Youths and Drugs in 2015 showed that many young people held the view that cannabis is a soft drug, and that the harms and addictiveness of cannabis were less serious than tobacco. We have incorporated messages dispelling these misperceptions in our anti-cannabis educational materials through advertisements at bus stops and articles on CNB's Facebook page.

3. Second, it is crucial to enlist the help of parents and teachers to help our youths stay drug-free. CNB meets with schools regularly to update teachers on the latest youth drug abuse situation. Our teachers will be able to look out for and engage youths who exhibit behaviours of concern to steer them away from drugs. We also reach out to parents through articles in lifestyle magazines and MOE's parents portal. A new resource brochure is being developed to provide facts and tips for parents on what to do if they suspect their children are abusing drugs.

4. Should a student be arrested for drug abuse, CNB will inform his school on the arrest and outcome of investigation. CNB will also conduct investigations on other students from the school who may have taken drugs.  In addition, CNB works with the school to conduct talks for the student population on the harms of drug abuse, the seriousness of a drug offence, and how to keep drug-free.

5. Third, youth drug abusers will be placed on suitable rehabilitation programmes, depending on their risk profiles. Risk assessments are conducted by trained psychologists to assess the abuser's likelihood of drug re-offending, taking into account factors such as criminal and drug abuse history, family support and antisocial peer associations. The abuser's risk profile will determine the type and intensity of rehabilitation programme that will be administered. These programmes range from 6 to 18 months.