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Singapore ‘disappointed’ by UN’s move to reclassify cannabis as a less dangerous drug: MHA

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Government is against the United Nations (UN) Commission’s decision on Wednesday (Dec 2) to no longer categorise cannabis for medicinal purposes with the world’s most dangerous drugs.

Singapore will stand firm in its zero-tolerance approach towards drugs, said the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Singapore will stand firm in its zero-tolerance approach towards drugs, said the Ministry of Home Affairs.

  • 27 out of 53 member states of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted to remove cannabis from the list of most dangerous drugs. 
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said Singapore is disappointed with the outcome
  • The list includes highly-addictive opioids like heroin
  • MHA said that despite the ruling, Singapore will stand firm in its zero-tolerance approach towards drugs

 

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Government is against the United Nations (UN) Commission’s decision on Wednesday (Dec 2) to no longer categorise cannabis for medicinal purposes with the world’s most dangerous drugs.

Twenty-seven of the 53 member states of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) voted in favour of this on Wednesday.

While Singapore is a signatory to the international drug control conventions, it is not a voting member in the CND.

“Singapore is disappointed with this outcome,” the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a press release on Thursday, adding that there is no strong evidence to support the recommendation.

Cannabis is listed under the Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs along with harmful and highly-addictive opioids like heroin. 

Singapore also joined 28 other member states to issue a statement saying that the acceptance of the recommendation should not be viewed as an “endorsement of recreational cannabis nor lead to further liberalisation of controls” over it.

“The acceptance of (this recommendation) could send a wrong signal that the CND has softened its stance against cannabis and fuel public misperception, especially among youths, that cannabis is no longer considered to be as harmful as before, despite strong evidence showing otherwise,” said MHA. 

Singapore’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Umej Bhatia, said on Wednesday that there is a lack of “adequate and robust evidence” to substantiate the recommendations put forth by the CND, particularly on the safety and efficacy of cannabis and its related substances for medical purposes. 

“In contrast, there is well-founded and incontrovertible research that establishes several short-term and long-term adverse effects associated with cannabis use, including impairments to one’s respiratory and cognitive functions,” he said. 

Mr Bhatia added that the adoption of the recommendation, taken in spite of “sharp disagreements” between the member states and the “dearth of robust and persuasive scientific evidence”, fundamentally goes against Singapore’s consensus and evidence-based drug policymaking. 

ZERO-TOLERANCE APPROACH

Despite this development, MHA said Singapore will stand firm in its zero-tolerance approach towards drugs.  

Singapore’s approach is based on preventive drug education, tough laws and robust enforcement, and rehabilitation and aftercare, it said. 

This has protected the health and welfare of people by keeping the local drug situation under control despite significant deterioration in the global and regional environments, added MHA.

“Singapore will continue to enforce our strict laws against the trafficking, possession, consumption and import or export of illicit drugs, including cannabis, to protect the health and welfare of our people.

“At the same time, we will continue to allow safe and controlled access to evidence-based medical treatment options, including cannabinoid pharmaceuticals, in accordance with our strict framework for the supply, prescription and dispensation of controlled drugs used for medical purposes in Singapore,” added MHA.

The recommendation for the reclassification of cannabis was first made by the WHO in 2019, but it was politically divisive then.

Related topics

cannabis drugs medicine United Nations

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