Thailand legalising cannabis poses more challenges to Singapore's anti-drug stance: Shanmugam
The easier access to cannabis in neighbouring countries will pose challenges to keeping Singapore drug-free, Minister of Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam said on Thursday.
"The freer availability of cannabis in Thailand, to which a lot of Singaporeans go and from where a lot of tourists come to Singapore, is going to present more challenges," said Mr Shanmugam on Malaysian news channel Astro Awani.
He noted how the authorities in Thailand had tried to rein in the effects of legalising cannabis but stressed the difficulties in policing and controlling its use.
Mr Shanmugam was speaking during an interview with host Melisa Idris, who also asked how Malaysia's looking into legalising medical marijuana would impact Singapore.
Mr Shanmugam said: "If Malaysia legalises cannabis or other drugs, given the even greater flow of people between Malaysia and Singapore compared to Thailand and Singapore, of course, it will be more challenging from the law enforcement (angle) and trying to keep Singapore drug-free."
He stressed that research shows that the drug is addictive and can cause irreversible brain damage, brain shrinkage, and serious mental and psychiatric illnesses.
Mr Shanmugam cited the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) saying that the East and South-east Asia region is "literally swimming" in methamphetamine, with more than one billion tablets seized in the region last year, and organised crime treating "the region like a playground".
Due to the huge supply of methamphetamine in the region, the drug is becoming cheaper and more easily available, but Singapore's tough laws have kept the country safe.
Asked about international criticism of Singapore's use of the death penalty, Mr Shanmugam pointed to the thousands of lives saved through the strict rules on drugs.