Bar Council welcomes Govt move to decriminalise drugs

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The Malaysian Bar has welcomed the government’s decision to decriminalise drugs, saying that these reforms are essential to a holistic drug policy.

Malaysian Bar president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor said the effectiveness of the hardline prohibitionist approach was questionable.

“The incarceration of persons with addiction to illicit drugs — often in detention centres that are overcrowded and in deplorable conditions — does little to help them ‘get clean’ but often exposes them and their families to additional risks of harm,” he said in a statement Monday (July 8).

He said that as members of the legal profession, they saw the human face of persons who are caught in Malaysia’s criminal justice system and subsequently incarcerated by Malaysia’s punitive policy of drug prohibition.

“We bear witness to the legal and personal consequences that they and their families face, especially so in the case of persons with addictions,” he said.

He said that based on research findings in other jurisdictions, 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.

“The decriminalisation of illicit drug use has the potential to reduce levels of drug-related harm, increase the number of drug-dependent users seeking treatment, and enable the implementation of effective demand reduction strategies.

“Treatment of addiction can be made more accessible, less harmful patterns of use can be encouraged, the risk of mortality can be alleviated, incidents of drug-related crime can be reduced, stigma and discrimination can be eased, total social costs to society can be lowered, and the activities of drug-related criminal networks can be disincentivised,” he said.

The government in June had pledged to decriminalise drug addiction and drug possession for personal use, saying that drug addicts should no longer be seen as criminals who must be punished but are patients in need of treatment and rehabilitation.


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