Thursday, November 12, 2015

Malaysia Minister Talks Drug Decriminalization
A Malaysian government minister said Sunday the Southeast Asian nation is moving toward decriminalizing drug possession, but her remarks also suggested that drug users would be exchanging jail cells for treatment beds. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nancy Shukri said the government's policy was moving from prosecuting drug users to treating them.
Nancy Shukri (

Her remarks came at the end of a High Level Meeting on Drug Policy and Public Health sponsored by the Global Commission on Drug Policy. The meeting was held in conjunction with the 2013 International Aids Conference held over the weekend in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital.

Shukri also said that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) goal of a drug-free region by 2015 was not realistic, but that smarter approaches by authorities could reduce drug dependence.

"There is no such thing as drug-free but we can control it by changing or shifting our policy," Shukri said. "Instead of looking at drug dependents as criminals, we should actually look at them as patients. Instead of bringing them to jail, we bring them to the clinic," she told a press gaggle after the AIDS conference ended.

Shukri said that Malaysia had been taking steps toward a more effective and humane drug policy, but that those initiatives were not widely known. She cited ongoing needle exchange programs for injection drug users. The sharing of needles is a known vector for the transmission of the AIDS virus, and the program had resulted in a reduction in new HIV/AIDS infections, she said.

"Others include the harm reduction program and upgrading of the rehabilitation centers into Cure & Care Clinics," Shukri said. "We are already there (decriminalizing drugs) but we are not making it loud enough for the people to understand that we have this policy. Our policy has not been established in a formal way."

That could be coming, though. Shukri said the government is currently reviewing the country's drug laws, including the Drug Dependents (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act of 1983.

"The Law Reform Committee is now in the process of discussing to amend that particular provision [Section 4(1)(b) of the Act which allows the detention of a suspected drug dependent for up to 14 days for a test to be conducted]," she said.

Kuala Lumpur




UN agency urged to publish leaked paper backing drug legalisation

October 21, 2015
KUALA LUMPUR: Delegates at an international drug-policy conference in Malaysia on Wednesday called on the United Nations drugs agency to officially release a leaked paper detailing an apparent landmark UN recommendation in favour of decriminalisation.
British tycoon Richard Branson, a legalisation advocate and member of a global drugs commission, caused a stir earlier this week when he leaked the document, which proposes decriminalising drug use and possession “for personal consumption.”
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) had originally intended for its paper to be presented this week in Kuala Lumpur, but scrapped those plans and has since claimed it was “not a final document.”
But more than 500 conference delegates from around the world, including leading medical professionals, researchers, and activists, on Wednesday held up copies of the two-page document, calling for its recommendations to be adopted.
“The overwhelming support from our delegates today for the UNODC’s drug decriminalisation recommendations should embolden them to show brave leadership on this issue, and publish the document in its current form,” said Rick Lines, head of Harm Reduction International, a global NGO advocating drug-policy reform, which organised the conference.
The UNODC paper said legalising personal use of now-illicit drugs could reduce the incarceration of millions of people worldwide, who often suffer subsequent judicial and rights abuses in many countries.
It also said bringing illegal drug use out of the shadows could help curb the spread of HIV and other health threats, and reduce strain on prisons.
In leaking the report on his blog Monday, Branson called it “a refreshing shift that could go a long way to finally end the needless criminalisation of millions of drug users around the world.”
Branson is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy which backs decriminalisation, saying the drug wars have failed and the root causes of drug abuse remain unaddressed.
But the UNODC has responded to the leak by saying “there has been an unfortunate misunderstanding about the nature and intent of this briefing paper.”
In a statement, it admitted the paper was originally intended for presentation in Kuala Lumpur but said it remained under review and was not “a final nor formal document.”
“UNODC emphatically denies reports that there has been pressure on UNODC to withdraw the document,” it said, adding that “it is not possible to withdraw what is not yet ready.”
Former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, a drug-reform advocate attending the Malaysia conference, said the legalisation movement is gaining ground.
“We see a real movement towards decriminalisation,” she said.
“It’s not the end of the story but that will be when using drugs are no longer considered unlawful.”

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