SINGAPORE - A website that provides information about the uses of the prohibited substance cannabis has been taken offline as of last night, after its creators were asked to do so by the authorities.
The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) said on Tuesday that it has been monitoring the website and its activities for some time. It feels that "the content of the website goes against the public interest as it promotes drug abuse in contravention of applicable Singapore laws", it said in response to Straits Times queries.
At CNB's behest, the Media Development Authority (MDA) had ordered the removal of the site's contents in a notification to the owners last week. Both the authorities said that this is the first time a website with drug-related content has been directed to remove its material entirely.
MDA cited a breach of the Internet Code of Practice, which states that "prohibited material" should not be "broadcast via the Internet to users in Singapore". MDA may direct the Internet service providers to block access to the site if it did not comply.
Prohibited material is defined as anything "that is objectionable on the grounds of public interest... or is otherwise prohibited by applicable Singapore laws".
The website in question, www.sgcannabis.org, was offline as of Tuesday night, but its creators are still running a Facebook page titled Singapore Cannabis Awareness, which has similar content.
On its page, the group said it seeks "to raise awareness of the productive uses of cannabis in Singaporean society" and hopes to help bring about policy changes such as removing the death penalty in relation to cannabis.
Currently, those caught in the illegal trafficking or trade of more than 500g of cannabis may face the death penalty under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
The Facebook page and the website are understood to be fronted by a Mr Shiwen Yap and Mike. Mr Yap told The Straits Times that they are from "an unregistered non-profit society".
"We view ourselves as educating people on alternative methods of drug regulation that minimise costs while optimising the benefits for both the government and society," he added.
The creators said in a Facebook post that they would review their website and that it "will be online again".
But the CNB said in a statement on Tuesday that the website "undermines Singapore's efforts in drug preventive education and erodes our society's resilience against drug abuse".
The website also makes claims about the purported benefits of "medical cannabis", despite a lack of "properly conducted and validated clinical trials to show that the purported benefits of this drug outweigh its risks".
When asked if they will take action against the group's Facebook page, MDA and CNB said in a joint statement that the group "should take reference from MDA's notice and remove similarly objectionable material from other sites as well".
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