KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 – A think tank has supported a government task force formed to expedite the decriminalisation of drug use in Malaysia.
“The idea of decriminalisation is in fact very much in line with the 2016 United Nations Special Session on the World Drug Problem which recognised drug dependence as a complex, multifactorial health disorder characterized by a chronic and relapsing nature with social causes and consequences that can be prevented and treated,” said Prof Dr B. Vicknasingam, the director of the Centre for Drug Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia and Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, the dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya, in a joint statement on behalf of the Malaysian Drug Policy Reform Alliance (MDPRA).
MDPRA is a think tank of independent, multi-sector, interdisciplinary influencers, professionals and community members researching and advocating for evidence-based drug policy in Malaysia.
“Malaysia has been dealing with this drug problem for many decades via a criminal justice approach without much success. More than 60 per cent of the prison population is made up of people who use drugs.
“Local studies conducted by our research teams have also shown that the cost of incarcerating drug users is far higher than providing treatment in the community,” the statement read.
Welcoming the government’s move to focus on a more health-based approach, Dr Vicknasingam and Dr Adeeba acknowledged that drug use and addiction is a complex issue.
“Therefore, a comprehensive and thorough plan based on local data and experience, the best available evidence and global best practices with input from a multi sectoral committee comprising not only of all relevant agencies but also civil societies, academics, researchers and medical and legal practitioners is key to ensure success,” they added.
Yesterday, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman announced that the Cabinet had agreed two weeks ago to set up a committee to speed up the process for the decriminalisation of drug use, saying that drug addicts should not be jailed.
The committee will be comprised of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the Chief Secretary to the Government.