Singapore disappointed at UN reclassification of cannabis
The Singapore Government has registered its disappointment at a United Nations commission's reclassification of cannabis as a less dangerous drug, saying this could fuel the wrong perception that it is less harmful than before.
The statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) yesterday came after the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted on Wednesday to remove cannabis for medicinal purposes from a category of the world's most dangerous drugs.
The 53 member states of the commission had voted to accept one of six recommendations on cannabis and cannabis- related substances put forward by the World Health Organisation Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. The other five recommendations were rejected.
The recommendation, which required a simple majority to pass, was voted for by 27 member states, with 25 voting against it and one member abstaining.
In expressing its disappointment, MHA said: "There is no strong evidence to support the recommendations, including Recommendation 5.1."
The acceptance of the recommendation means that cannabis and cannabis resin would no longer be listed with the most dangerous drugs, such as heroin, in Schedule IV under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, although international control measures for them remain unchanged.
Schedule IV lists the most dangerous substances that are highly addictive, liable to abuse and rarely used in medical practice.
MHA said the acceptance of Recommendation 5.1 could send a wrong signal that the United Nations commission has softened its stance against cannabis and fuel public misperception, especially among the youth, that cannabis is no longer considered to be as harmful as before despite strong evidence showing otherwise.
In its statement, MHA said that contrary to the WHO expert committee's views, there are no compelling justifications that the proposed rescheduling is required to reduce barriers to access cannabis and its related substances for medical and scientific purposes.
The current international drug control system already provides adequate access to such stances for these purposes, MHA added.
It reiterated that Singapore would continue to enforce strict laws against the trafficking, possession, consumption, and import and export of illicit drugs, including cannabis, to protect the health and welfare of its people.