Cannabis in Singapore
Cannabis in Singapore is currently illegal for recreational purposes, but medicinal purposes has been allowed under extraordinary circumstances in recent years. Possession or consumption can result in a maximum of 10 years in prison, with a possible fine of $20,000, as well as caning, under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Trafficking, import or export of more than 500 grams may result in the death penalty.
Cannabis was likely introduced to Singapore by immigrant laborers from South Asia, who often used cannabis in their homelands. This origin is witnessed by the use of the now archaic Indian term ganja to label cannabis in Singapore, even among non-Indians. Cannabis was banned in Singapore in 1870, during the British colonial period under the Straits Settlements.
In 2016, a Straits Times article reported that there were 252 new drug cases by the National Addictions Management Service in the previous year involving people aged below 30, compared with 136 in 2014, further citing that such "cases of young people influenced by growing acceptance of drug overseas [is] a worrying trend". Singaporean politician Christopher de Souza, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law later stated that "to decriminalize the recreational consumption of cannabis is a foolish proposal. It entrenches a higher tolerance for drugs in community."
While the legalisation of recreational cannabis is unlikely to happen in Singapore under the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) government in the near future, in recent years the usage of medicinal cannabis has been relaxed but nevertheless remains severely restricted, and it's often been considered as the drug of last resort after all treatment options has been exhausted.
The Singapore's National Research Foundation (NRF) announced on January 10, 2018 that it would develop synthetic medicinal cannabinoids, or chemical compounds found in the marijuana plant, to eventually help treat diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Part of a broader S$25 million ($19 million) investment by the body into synthetic biology, the initiative is intended to boost Singapore's push to develop a “bio-based economy,” and grow new industries and create jobs in a sustainable way.
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