Malaysia has long had some of the harshest drug laws on the planet - the death penalty. When I was young I can remember the pilots always informing passengers that drug smugglers would be executed as we began our decent into Malaysia. Thankfully they have stopped telling passengers that as it's not a great look for Malaysia.
Over the years I have known many people who had to cope with the mental and physical stress of arrest, court cases and imprisonment in Malaysia for possession of drugs. I have even met some who have had to sit on death row for decades.
Thankfully Malaysia is wising up to both the economic and social predicament that criminalizing so many people for non violent crimes is having on it's economy. I was accurately able to predict here on the blockchain that Thailand would legalize Cannabis a year before it happened. Even my Thai friends didn't believe me but it happened this previous new year. I am predicting now that we will see a relaxation of the drug laws and some form of Cannabis decriminalization in Malaysia soon. I am sure I am correct! 😉
Lets Have A Look At What The Politicians Are Saying...
Malaysia is currently in a process of debate about drug decriminalization. They can see the social problems and economic benefits that this would bring to Malaysia. The criminalization of drugs is hurting the society and therefore the economy. Malaysian youth who have done nothing more than what other youth around the world do by experimenting with altered states and then are convicted are not allowed to travel to many other countries around the world. This surely hurts the economy in the long run.
Malaysia has a huge budget deficit from the largest case of kleptocracy theft under the previous government. Like Thailand Malaysia can see that even decriminalizing or legalizing Cannabis would provide a much needed tax income and export income which could help to plug this hole.
The politicians are discussing changing their stance on drug use and there are clearly many social and economic benefits to be reaped from Malaysia.
Good For The Criminals?
There are however some absurd statements coming out of certain sections of the law makers. One was that the illegal suppliers of drugs in Malaysia must be excited about the prospect of legalization. This is absurd. Even a basic understanding of history and economics shows that suppliers of illegal drugs wish to maintain them as illegal. If the drugs are legalized then their market collapses and their profits are massively reduced.
There is also a fear that legalizing drugs in Malaysia would encourage people to try them. This is conceivably true but given the rampant drug abuse that happens in Malaysia already, even given the harsh penalties, I doubt that would really be a big increase. The truth is that if even a fraction of the money that is spent on policing and imprisonment was spent on education then drug use could be massively reduced. Part of the problem with criminalization is that public discussion of the topic is hugely restricted. This means that the youth are uneducated about the dangers of appalling drugs such as methamphetamine (ice) or heroine.
The Push Back
There is one other important point to mention here and that is the word: corruption! Nobody in Malaysia is ignorant of the corruption that is endemic within law enforcement in Malaysia. Corruption is rampant ans has been all my life. The corruption is not entirely the fault of the police - their salaries are very low and sometimes corruption is the only way to feed the children.
However as is always the case when the families of kids arrested for drug use and facing years in squalid prison cells have money they will do their best to save their kids from that fate. Years in these prisons are not good for the mind or the soul and nobody is under any false illusions that drug use is not rampant within Malaysia's prisons.
As usual corruption always leads to the top so it was interesting to see this statement in the paper from the current Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador:
"I welcome this well intention-ed proposal. We will continue to meet to ensure all aspects of the law and flaws that might arise are addressed to realize this plan."
I do not know this current IG of Malaysia personally but his statement is either a wise political move or represents a genuine desire to see things changing. I am unsure and only time will tell. What is openly admitted is that the corruption within the police has allowed many to become very wealthy from bribes and there is surely an element of the current Malaysian police force who will not wish to see drugs decriminalized. Like the drug syndicates they will be concerned about loosing their illegal sources of income.
A Brighter Future For The Population?
Where Malaysia goes with this is yet to be seen. I am sure Cannabis will see some form of decriminalization and that will definitely be a step in the right direction. What is obvious to me is that the majority of the population believes in decimalization and that is probably the driving force behind this political move.
Like everywhere Malaysia should not be criminalizing their youth for nothing more than nonviolent experimentation. With Thailand now legalizing medical Cannabis there are also powerful forces in Malaysia who would love to be able to legitimately produce Cannabis products and realize the income streams associated with that.
Like the majority of people in Malaysia I believe nonviolent drug crimes should be punished with death or lengthy prison sentences. Even the threat of death has not stopped a wave of drug addiction spreading throughout Malaysia. The laws clearly haven't worked and a reassessment needs to happen. Lets hope it happens for the people of Malaysia sooner than later! 😊
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