Published: 31 July 2019
The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill was passed by Parliament on 15 January 2019.
Key Provisions to Take Effect on 1 August 2019
1. The first tranche of provisions under the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act 2019 (“Act”) came into effect on 1 April 2019. The second tranche of provisions will come into effect on 1 August 2019.
(a) Contamination Offences
2. The Act criminalises acts of contamination which facilitate or promote drug abuse.Under the Act, it is an offence to introduce a drug trafficker to another person, knowing the trafficker is likely to supply that person with drugs. It is also an offence to teach, instruct, or provide information to another person on how to cultivate, manufacture, consume, traffic, import or export controlled drugs, knowing or having reason to believe that the person intends to carry out these activities. The Act stipulates a maximum imprisonment of ten years for first-time convictions, and a mandatory minimum imprisonment of two years, up to a maximum of ten years, for repeat convictions.
3. It is also an offence to disseminate or publish any information relating to the cultivation, manufacture, consumption, trafficking and import or export of controlled drugs. The Act stipulates a maximum imprisonment of five years or a fine of up to $10,000, or both, for first time convictions, and a mandatory minimum imprisonment of one year, up to a maximum of five years, for repeat convictions.
(b) Better Protection of Children and Young Persons
4. The Act aims to better protect children and young persons from the harms of drugs. It is an offence for an adult who possesses illicit drugs, knowing that a child (below 16 years of age) is likely to be present in a place, to knowingly or recklessly leave drugs or drug utensils within easy access of the child. It is also an offence for an adult to permit or not take reasonable steps to prevent a young person (below 21 years old) from consuming illicit drugs in the adult’s possession. The Act stipulates a maximum imprisonment of 10 years for first-time convictions, and a mandatory minimum imprisonment of two years, up to a maximum of 10 years, for repeat convictions.
(c) Mandatory for Parents or Guardians of Youth Abusers to Attend Counselling
5. The Youth Enhanced Supervision (YES) scheme for low-risk youth abusers involves compulsory counselling for the youth abusers that require the involvement of their parents. However, some parents persistently absent themselves from these sessions. Under the Act, the Director of CNB may require the parents or guardians of drug supervisees under 21 years old to attend the counselling sessions. Those who do not comply without a reasonable excuse can be charged and fined up to $5,000, or ordered by the Courts to attend the counselling sessions.
(d) Increase in Maximum Rehabilitation and Supervision Periods
6. The maximum period of detention in the Drug Rehabilitation Centre will be increased from three years to four, to cater to high-risk repeat drug abusers who may require longer periods of rehabilitation.
7. Currently, first-time abusers assessed by CNB to be of low risk of further abuse can be emplaced on the Enhanced Direct Supervision Order (or on YES if they are under 21 years old), which are non-custodial supervision orders where they are required to report regularly to CNB for urine or hair testing. Abusers who are emplaced on rehabilitation or imprisoned also undergo post-release supervision by CNB. The Act and the related amendments to subsidiary legislation extend the maximum period of supervision from two years to five, to ensure that drug abusers receive sustained support for successful reintegration into society and have the best chance of staying drug-free.
(e) Use of Hair Analysis
8. Hair analysis was introduced in 2012 as an alternative drug abuse detection tool. Unlike urine tests, which can only detect drugs consumed within the immediate week of the test, hair analysis is able to do so for drugs consumed earlier. Under the Act, the Director of CNB can subject a drug abuser to mandatory rehabilitation and supervision based on the positive result of a hair analysis.