Malaysian Bar Backs Decriminalising Drug Use

Incarcerating drug users in overcrowded detention centres doesn’t help them.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 9 — The Malaysian Bar expressed support for the government’s decision to decriminalise drug use, saying this could reduce drug-related harm. 

The peninsular legal body questioned the effectiveness of a hardline prohibitionist approach towards drugs, noting that incarcerating drug users in overcrowded detention centres did little to cure them of their addiction, but often exposed them and their families to additional harm.

“The Malaysian Bar supports the government’s efforts to establish a comprehensive public health-oriented approach to drug policy that is evidence-based and guided by expert advice,” Malaysian Bar president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor said in a statement.

“The government’s decision to decriminalise illicit drug use is not a refutation of the harm caused by illicit drug use, but a recognition that illicit drug use is not purely a law enforcement or security problem, but more essentially, a public health and social issue that must be addressed in a holistic manner in the best interest of our nation.”

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad and Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin recently announced that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government will decriminalise drug use, but they have also stressed that “decriminalisation” did not mean amending or repealing current laws. 

The Malaysian Bar also welcomed Muhyiddin’s proposal to amend the Drug Dependants (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act 1983 so that drug users and addicts will not be registered under the Registration of Criminals and Undesirable Persons Act 1969. 

“Based on available research findings on drug policy in other jurisdictions, it is the Malaysian Bar’s view that drug law reform in the form of the decriminalisation of illicit drug use — in favour of a more progressive harm reduction approach — is a prudent and progressive step for the government to take in its drug policy.”

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