Singapore in no rush to decriminalize medical cannabis: Shanmugam

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PETALING JAYA – Singapore is unlikely to decriminalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes anytime soon, says Home and Law Minister K. Shanmugam.

The Republic’s response follows Thailand becoming the first country in Asia to decriminalize cannabis nationwide on June 9, with Malaysia now exploring the possibility of allowing the use of cannabis and leaf. of kratom, locally known as ketum, for medicinal purposes.

“Our policies are based on science and research, which show that cannabis is clearly harmful and addictive,” Shanmugam said in a virtual interview with The Star from his office earlier this week.

He said the city-state was very careful in the matter and would not be influenced by others to relax the provisions of the law allowing the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

“If a pharmaceutical company is pushing for the use of cannabis on the grounds that it has medical benefits, I would be very skeptical,” he said, adding that he would also be cautious if such calls were made by non-governmental organizations that were supported by these companies.

He said Singapore authorities were leaving the matter in the hands of medical experts and doctors to assess.

“If a reputable medical association says they need cannabis for medical purposes, we will take that very seriously.

“In Singapore, we leave it up to the doctors and if the doctors say it’s necessary for treatment and recovery, then we will allow it. They can apply and it will be considered,” he said.

Malaysian Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin was recently on a four-day working visit to Thailand to assess the potential medical use of cannabis and ketum and review the legal framework for their medical use.

The Malaysian government is working on a framework to register certain cannabidiol products which are expected to go live by next year.

Regarding the legalization of cannabis for personal medical use, Mr Shanmugam said Singapore was currently reluctant to follow in Thailand’s footsteps.

“We are assessing Singaporeans and doing surveys and Singaporeans really don’t want to be in that situation,” he said.

He pointed out that there had been reversals in Thailand after its government decided to decriminalize the use of cannabis.

“It started popping up everywhere…in toothpaste, cookies, popsicles and drinks. So the government and the public got a little worried and turned around.

“For example, the governor of Bangkok has ordered that all schools in Bangkok be cannabis-free and that smoking in public is also banned,” he added.

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