Published: 13 March 2023
1. At the outset, allow me to congratulate you on your appointment as Chair of the 66th Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND).
Global Trends in Drug Supply and Abuse
2. The current global trends in drug supply and abuse are worrying.
3. Around 284 million people consumed drugs last year. This is a quarter more than in 2010. The World Health Organization estimated half a million drug-related deaths in 2020.
4. Compared with previous generations, drug users today are younger. A high prevalence of cannabis abuse was recorded for adolescents across all regions. Global hospital admissions related to cannabinoid dependence and withdrawal, and for cannabis-related psychotic disorders, have also increased by more than eightfold.
5. Are these trends inevitable? Or have we not prevented the preventable? Could it have been partly due to the increasing liberalisation of drugs, especially cannabis, for non-medical use?
6. Should we have acted against the increased potency of THC in products targeted at youth, such as edibles and vape?
Singapore’s Approach Towards Drugs
7. These questions make us think harder about our drug policies.
8. As members know, Singapore is a transport hub situated close to a major drug production region. This makes us an attractive transit and transhipment node that could be exploited by drug syndicates. We cannot change this fact.
9. At different times in our history, we have seen drugs destroy lives and deprive people of their right to live in a safe environment. To this day, we cannot eliminate this risk.
10. For example, as recently as 2019, a 25-year-old man in Singapore, after taking LSD, stabbed his mother and punched his grandmother, causing both women to die.
11. To mitigate such risks, we adopt a multi-pronged, holistic harm prevention approach aimed at reducing drug demand and supply.
12. We do this through:
(a) Preventive drug education;
(b) Tough laws and robust enforcement; and
(c) Heavy investment in the structured and evidence-informed rehabilitation and reintegration programmes.
(d) Our experience has taught us that art can play an instrumental role in the rehabilitation process.
13. I therefore encourage delegations to visit Singapore’s art exhibition which showcases the artwork created by individuals going through our rehabilitation programmes.
14. Colleagues, drug trafficking is a transnational crime, and the drug problem is a worldwide problem.
15. Singapore reaffirms our commitment to the three international drug conventions and acknowledges the important role of the CND, and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) in monitoring adherence to the conventions.
16. Dear colleagues, Singapore is a candidate for the term 2024-2027. We sincerely hope to contribute more to the work of the CND, as a member of the Commission. We seek your kind support for this.
17. Thank you.