The Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) governs drug related offences in Singapore and consists of 7 parts (Part I – Part VII) with 59 sections and 5 Schedules (First Schedule – Fifth Schedule). [The MDA is accessible at https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/MDA1973].
The Misuse of Drugs Act penalises both the drug trafficker (seller) and the drug consumer (buyer). It lays down offences of manufacturing, trafficking, importing or exporting, possessing or consuming of the controlled drugs (sections 5-7 of MDA).
A Singapore citizen or permanent resident of Singapore who is found (by a urine test) to have consumed controlled drugs outside of Singapore, he or she will be taken to have consumed the controlled drugs in Singapore and as a result, he or she has committed an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act. He or she will receive the punishment as stated under the MDA (section 8A of MDA).
Possession of any pipes or utensils for smoking or for the administration of drugs is illegal as well (section 9 of MDA).
MDA forbids the cultivation of any plant from the genus of cannabis, or any plant from which cocaine can be extracted (section 10 of MDA).
MDA categorises the drugs into 3 classes i.e. Class A, Class B and Class C (First schedule of the MDA lists down all 3 classes of controlled drugs).
Presumption of Drug Possession (Sections 17-22 of MDA)
Any person who possesses anything that containing a controlled drug is presumed to be in possession of the drug unless the person has the burden to prove otherwise, for instance, he or she was unaware that he or she was in possession of the substances. The police is not required to produce a search warrant to enter into any premises for drugs raid.
Presumption of Trafficking (Section 17 of MDA)
If any person has in his or her possession more than a certain weight of drugs (as specified in the MDA), it is presumed that the drugs are for trafficking purpose. The accused has the burden to prove that his possession of the drugs is not for trafficking purpose.
Punishments (Second Schedule of MDA)
Different punishments are to be imposed on different class of controlled drugs:
|Class A||Maximum: 20 years & 15 strokes
Minimum: 5 years & 5 stokes
|Class B||Maximum: 20 years & 10 strokes
Minimum: 3 years & 3 strokes
|Class C||Maximum: 10 years & 5 strokes
Minimum: 2 years & 2 strokes
|Specified Drug / Large Quantity of Controlled Drug (as specified in MDA) / Specified Content involved||Maximum: 30 years or imprisonment for life & 15 strokes
Minimum: 20 years & 15 strokes
Death Sentence (if large quantity of certain controlled drugs or specified content involved)
Death Sentence in Singapore
There is no death sentence for drug related offences if:
- The accused was only acting as a courier and had absolutely no other involvements in the supply or distribution of drugs.’
- S 33B of Misuse of Drugs Act:
- Public Prosecutor certifies that the accused has substantively assisted the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Singapore.
- The accused proves that he or she was suffering from abnormality of mind (regardless of whether it is due to a condition of arrested or retarded development of mind or any inherent causes or induced by disease or injury) as substantially impaired his mental responsibility for his or her acts.
Rehabilitation and Treatment for Drug Addict (Section 34 of MDA)
The court may impose to the accused, who is a drug addict, a supervision order carried out by a trained officer from the CNB. The supervision order that lead to rehabilitation and treatment of the accused, shall last for a period of not exceeding 2 years.
During the rehabilitation and treatment, the accused shall stay in an approved institute in Singapore for at least 6 months unless the Director of the CNB or a Review Committee allows the accused to be discharged earlier.
If the Director of the CNB or a Review Committee is in the opinion that the accused needs further rehabilitation, they may extend the rehabilitation period for another 6 months or extend the supervision order by another 2 years. The accused is allowed to stay in the institution for a maximum of 3 years.
How can we help?
It is highly advisable for any person who is charged with drug-related offences to seek immediate legal advice and legal representation. We have a dedicated criminal defence practice and experience in drugs-related offences. Please do not hesitate to get in touch, and call us, WhatsApp or SMS us on +65 9776 5796 if your situation requires emergency assistance.
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