Malaysia's Proposal to Decriminalize Drug Usage
“When you can stop, you do not want to. But when you want to stop, you cannot. That is addiction “ (unknown author)
Recently in Malaysia a proposal was made to replace the Drug Dependents (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act of 1983 with a new Drug and Substance Abuse Act - a huge step in the direction to destigmatize drug abuse and addiction according to Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin. The new act proposes prison sentences to be replaced with rehabilitation and treatment programs.
We asked our members in a recent online survey if they felt their country should accept a similar law which would decriminalize drugs and twice as many members were for such a law versus against it. Currently in USA, if an individual is caught with illegal drugs or controlled substances, they may receive jail time - the length of which being subject to the state where the offense occurred and the previous criminal record of the individual. Under federal law, simple possession of drugs is a misdemeanor offense that can lead to a prison term of a year or less for a first offense; however, for subsequent offenses, felony charges and additional years of jail time may apply. US citizens may also face a fine of $1,000 on top of long hours of community service. Recreational usage of marijuana is allowed without any legal implications in some states in USA and all provinces of Canada.
More than 70% of Tellwutters supported using the funds for policing drug usage to help addicts in rehabilitation centers.
When we asked whether the current drug laws of Malaysia, which punishes individuals caught with substantial amounts of drugs with a mandatory death sentence is appropriate, two thirds responded negatively.
Some of us may wonder whether decriminalizing drugs may increase nationwide substance abuse and normalize it. We can never be sure, but when Portugal decriminalized drug possession in 2001 by replacing jail time with fines and community service, the drug use rates did not increase. Instead, there was a sharp increase in the individuals seeking rehabilitation. Thus, one may argue that the only thing we will be normalizing is individuals seeking help to fight addiction and a legal system and society supporting them in their journey.
Let us collectively build a society where people are given more chances: humanity needs another chance every so often!