Drug addicts getting younger, cannabis abusers on the rise

Drug addicts getting younger, cannabis abusers on the rise

Drug prices have fallen because of an increased supply in the region, said Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli.

Giving an update on the overall drug situation in Parliament yesterday, Mr Masagos also flagged two worrying trends - one, that drug abusers were getting younger, and two, that the number of cannabis abusers was on the increase.

More Singaporeans were also arrested at checkpoints when returning home from abroad, after urine tests showed they had been abusing drugs.

There were 64 arrested last year, 36 per cent higher than the 47 nabbed in 2013, according to statistics from the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB).

Mr Masagos noted that international drug syndicates have formed networks within Southeast Asia to manufacture, receive and distribute drugs to the region.

"Unfortunately, Singapore remains a major destination for these drugs, either for trans-shipment or for imports," he added.

He said this in response to

Mr Edwin Tong (Moulmein-Kallang GRC), who had raised concerns that drugs might be getting cheaper and more accessible on the street.

Mr Tong had said earlier that enforcement agencies had to remain vigilant, even as arrests of drug abusers and recividism rates of ex- drug offenders go down.

He pointed out that even though the street value of drugs seized had decreased markedly to $8.1 million last year from $20.5 million in 2013, the quantity of drugs such as cannabis seized was increasing.

Voluntary welfare organisations have started seeing abusers as young as 13 or 14 come forward for treatment, Mr Tong said.

"The drug problem is a serious social tragedy, and we cannot look at it only in terms of the individual drug abuser who suffers from the addiction," he said.

Yesterday, Mr Masagos reaffirmed Singapore's zero-tolerance stance towards drugs, adding that the Government would tackle both drug supply and demand.

"We rehabilitate those who consume drugs, even as we take firm action against repeat abusers," he said.

He noted that tough laws had kept the streets largely free from drugs.

Still, 35kg of cannabis was seized last year, a 10-year high. That quantity can feed more than 5,000 addicts for a week, noted Mr Masagos.

He added that the CNB is both monitoring the rise in the sale of drugs online and the trend of youth travelling overseas to experiment with drugs.

Mr Masagos, who co-chairs a taskforce which is tackling the youth drug abuse problem, said the taskforce's findings will be released later this year.

He added: "Our laws have kept crime low and deterred organised drug syndicates from operating in Singapore. Let us keep it that way."

dansonc@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Mar 7, 2015.
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