In Singapore, the National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA) marked World Drug Day on June 26 by reminding our children of the dangers of drugs. Alongside our anti-drug laws, enforcement officers and rehabilitative agencies, NCADA aims to build strong social resistance against drug abuse.
Like other anti-drug policymakers and community leaders across the globe, I am alarmed at the recent momentum of the pro-drug lobby.
Singapore's zero tolerance against drugs has worked well so far. But for a small, cosmopolitan and open country like Singapore, this is being eroded. We will have to join with like-minded partners to resist the pro-drug lobby for the sake of our children's future.
In particular, we must fight the cannabis legalisation agenda. The pro-drug arguments to legalise the drug trade are cunningly couched in eloquent socio-economic and health-based cost-benefit arguments. The ulterior motive is profit. Our children must know the truth is drugs are harmful no matter how you package it!
The effects of legalising cannabis will be far-reaching. Currently, chocolates and even soft drinks laced with cannabis are being advertised in the US states where cannabis has been legalised. Reports have surfaced of deaths and health consequences among children and teenagers due to consumption of cannabis-laced food and drinks.
The United Nations drug conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988 prohibit the use, possession and supply of cannabis (also known as marijuana).
Under US federal law, marijuana is classified as a substance with high potential for dependency and no accepted medical use. Yet, 20 states in America have allowed the medical use of cannabis. Colorado and Washington state have legalised the production, sale and consumption of cannabis.
US pop culture, celebrities' "medical" use of marijuana and pro-drug campaigners also promote the false notion that marijuana is harmless, to build a new multibillion-dollar drug market targeting our children and impressionable youth.
Singapore's drug situation remains challenging due to domestic and external factors.
Domestically, we need to watch for second-order effects of the estimated 2,000 repeat drug abusers released from long-term imprisonment last year and this year. Second-order effects refer mostly to effects from rejection of inmates by society and their families. Some may turn to old habits or even influence others to take up the drug habit.