Published: 01 June 2023
1. The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill was passed by Parliament on 21 March 2023.
Provisions That Will Take Effect on 1 June 2023
2. The following provisions of the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act 2023 (“Act”) will take effect on 1 June 2023:
Increase in Penalties for Possession of Large Quantities of Controlled Drugs Deemed to Have the Highest Potential to Cause Serious Harms
3. Currently, the punishment for possession of any controlled drug, regardless of weight, is up to 10 years’ imprisonment, or a fine of up to $20,000, or both.
4. The Act introduces increased punishments, including caning, for the possession of selected controlled drugs above certain weight thresholds. The drug types for which the punishment for the possession offence will be increased are morphine, diamorphine, opium, cocaine, cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabis mixture and methamphetamine. The maximum punishment for the drug possession offence will now be 30 years’ imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane for these eight drug types.
Clarify Powers of Seizure Based on Reasonable Suspicion
5. The Act clarifies that CNB officers may make seizures based on reasonable suspicion. These amendments align the position in the MDA with the powers of investigation provided for under the Criminal Procedure Code 2010.
Amendments Relating to the Singapore Armed Forces Act 1972 (“SAF Act”)
6. Currently, SAF servicemen caught for drug consumption may be charged under Section 26 of the SAF Act or Section 34 of the SAF Act. Section 34 of the SAF Act may also be used to charge SAF servicemen for drug possession. The Act clarifies that only previous convictions for drug consumption under Section 34 of the SAF Act, and not for drug possession, will count towards enhanced punishment for repeat drug consumption under the MDA. Similarly, the Act clarifies that only antecedents for drug consumption under Section 34 of the SAF Act will count towards long-term imprisonment under Section 33A of the MDA for the repeat consumption of specified drugs.
7. The Act also amends the scope of the recall provision under Section 31(1A) of the MDA. Section 31(1A) allows the Director of CNB to recall any former drug abuser to report for a urine test, throughout the person’s life, to ensure that the person is no longer a drug addict. The Act amends Section 31, so that persons convicted under Section 26 of the SAF Act for drug consumption and persons convicted under Section 34 of the SAF Act for drug consumption, can be recalled by the Director of CNB and subject to a urine test.
Amendments to Misuse of Drugs (Community Rehabilitations Centres) Regulations, the Misuse of Drugs (Approved Institutions, Medical Observation and Treatment and Rehabilitation) Regulations and Misuse of Drugs (Controlled Equipment, Material and Substances) Regulations
8. Technical amendments to the Misuse of Drugs (Community Rehabilitations Centres) Regulations, the Misuse of Drugs (Approved Institutions, Medical Observation and Treatment and Rehabilitation) Regulations and Misuse of Drugs (Controlled Equipment, Material and Substances) Regulations will also be made to bring into effect, the above-mentioned provisions of the Act which will come into force on 1 June 2023.
Other Provisions to Take Effect in First Half of 2024
9. The remaining provisions of the Act will take effect in the first half of 2024. These relate to the new legislative framework for psychoactive substances. More details will be announced separately. Please refer to the Annex for more information on the amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act.