Singapore to toughen laws to deal with new psychoactive drugs

SINGAPORE – Laws aimed at tackling the threat of new psychoactive substances (NPS) will be strengthened in the coming months, reflecting Singapore’s hardline stance against drug trafficking.

Communications and Information Minister Josephine Teo said on Saturday that the Ministry of Interior (MHA) will propose that the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) be authorized to take action based on the psychoactive effects of a substance, even if the substance itself has not yet been scheduled under the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA).

Speaking at an MHA Minister’s Appreciation Luncheon at HomeTeamNS Khatib, Ms Teo, who is also the second Home Minister, said: “Over the next few months we will be strengthening the laws for us enable new psychoactive substances to be treated more effectively.

“Because NPS are easy to make in drug labs that aren’t difficult to set up, we find it difficult to keep track of everything that comes to market,” she said.

“The substance may change, but the effects can be described, and so even if the substance has not yet been listed in our Misuse of Drugs Act, it will allow CNB to be more responsive.”

In June, 13 new NPS have been added to the MDA and listed as Class A drugs, making it an offense to traffic, manufacture, import, export, possess or consume.

According to the CNB, the abuse of NPS, like Mushroom and Spice, has been linked to physical and psychological reactions such as paranoia, hallucinations, seizures and death.

Ms Teo said the government would remain firm in its tough approach against drug trafficking, including the use of the death penalty. She noted that arguments that the death penalty is a failed deterrent due to Singapore’s continued drug trade are “misleading” and “illogical”.

Ms Teo said there is “compelling evidence” that the death penalty is an effective deterrent to drug trafficking.

“When we interviewed convicted drug traffickers and analyzed their operations, it clearly showed that the death penalty figured into their calculations and significantly reduced the amount of drugs trafficked in Singapore.”

She added: “Surveys also show that a large majority of people living in our surrounding area agree that the death penalty has a deterrent effect.”

In October, British billionaire Richard Branson criticized the use of the death penalty to deter drug trafficking in Singapore in a blog post.

Alvin J. Chase