Malaysia’s health minister says the country will decriminalize drug use. Malaysia is notorious for imposing harsh penalties for the possession of drugs but a new policy is on the way. Country’s health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad has described the stoppage of criminal prosecution as “game changer policy”.
The health minister said that about 30 countries have already taken steps towards drug decriminalization. He stressed that the decision is a sensible path forward. He also stressed that the new policies do not mean that Malaysia will legalize drugs. He said in a statement that the decriminalization will not be for drug trafficking.
The statement reads, “Decriminalization is the removal of criminal penalties for possessing and using a small quantity of drugs for personal use, as opposed to those who are involved in trafficking drugs.” He stressed on the point that drug trafficking will remain illegal and a crime in the country.
The current legislation of Malaysia states that any person found with drugs would be fined or jailed. There are more than 65,000 inmates in the country’s prison and about of them are in prison because of drug possession. People are presumed to be trafficking if they are caught with 200 grams or more of cannabis or 15 grams or more of heroin or morphine. This offence carries a mandatory death sentence.
The law minister Liew Vui Kheong had said in November that the government are on a path towards changing the drug policies. Many politicians have also campaigned for the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes. Liew said that if the new policies are implemented, then the money spent on incarceration would be used towards treatment and education programs. Malaysia have already initiated similar programs like the harm reduction program in 2005 as part of efforts to curb the spread of HIV.