Misuse of Drugs Act

  • Criminal Law
Misuse of Drugs Act

The Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) governs drug-related offences in Singapore. It consists of seven parts (Part I – Part VII) with 59 sections and 5 schedules (First Schedule – Fifth Schedule).

The Misuse of Drugs Act penalises both the drug trafficker or seller and the drug consumer or buyer. Sections 5-7 discusses the offences of manufacturing, trafficking, importing or exporting, and possessing or consuming the controlled drugs.

What if a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident consumes controlled drugs outside of Singapore? He or she will be found to have consumed the controlled drugs in Singapore if, as a result of such behaviour, an offence is committed under the Misuse of Drugs Act. This person will suffer punishment as dictated under section 8A of the MDA.

Section 9 of the MDA states that it is illegal to possess any pipes or utensils for smoking or the administration of drugs. It is also illegal to cultivate plants from the genus of cannabis, or any plant from which cocaine can be extracted.

MDA categorises the drugs into three classes: Class A, Class B, and Class C. The First Schedule of the MDA lists down all three classes of controlled drugs.

Drug Possession Presumption (sections 17-22 of MDA)

If a person possesses anything containing a controlled drug, it will be presumed that he or she possesses the drug. The individual must prove that he or she was unaware that the substance was ins his or her possession.

In the event of a drug raid, the police do not need to produce a search warrant to enter a person’s premises.

Presumption of Trafficking (section 17 of MDA)

If a person possesses an amount of drugs larger than that specified by the MDA, it may be presumed that the person has the intent to trade the drugs. The individual must therefore prove that the drugs in his or her possession were not for trafficking purposes.

Punishments (Second Schedule of MDA)

Different sanctions are to be imposed on different classes of controlled drugs:

Class A:

  • Maximum: 20 years and 15 strokes
  • Minimum: 5 years and five strokes

Class B:

  • Maximum: 20 years and ten strokes
  • Minimum: 3 years and 3 strokes

Class C:

  • Maximum: 10 years and five strokes
  • Minimum: 2 years and two strokes

Specified drug / Large quantity of controlled drug / Specified content:

  • A maximum sentence of 30 years or life imprisonment and 15 strokes;
  • A minimum sentence of 20 years and 15 strokes;
  • Death sentence for a person in possession of a large quantity of certain controlled drugs or specified content involved

Death sentence in Singapore

There is no death sentence for drug-related offences if:

  • The accused person was only acting as a courier and had absolutely no other involvement in supplying drugs or distributing drug; and
  • As stated in S 33B of Misuse of Drugs Act:
  1. The Public Prosecutor certifies that the accused has substantively assisted in disruption of the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) drug trafficking activities, no matter if it was within or outside Singapore;
  2. The accused demonstrates that he or she was suffering from an abnormality of mind (no matter if it is because of an arrested or retarded development of mental condition, or any inherent or induced disease or injury) as substantially impaired mental responsibility for acts.

Rehabilitation and treatment for drug addicts

Under section 34 of the MDA, the court may impose a supervision order on the accused, who is a drug addict. A trained officer from the CNB will conduct this supervision. The supervision order that leads to rehabilitation and treatment of the accused shall last for a period not exceeding two years.

When in rehabilitation and treatment, the accused shall stay in an approved institute in Singapore for at least six months. Only the CNB director or a review committee may allow the accused to be released earlier.

The rehabilitation period may be extended for another six months. The supervision order may also be prolonged by another two years if the CNB director or a review committee deems that the accused needs further rehabilitation. The accused, however, cannot stay in the institution for more than three years.

Who can help if I am charged with a drug-related offence?

If you are charged with a drug-related crime, we strongly recommend that you seek immediate legal representation from an experienced criminal lawyer.