This article is in no way intended to support the use of any drug (legal or illegal), nor is it intended to diminish or belittle the negative health effects that any of the discussed substances inflict. Rather, it is to look at the statistics associated with the use and abuse of 'hard' and 'soft' drugs, and pose the question whether or not Singapore Law should allow distinction between the two when it comes to incarceration and capital punishment.
It is no secret, that Singapore has some of the toughest laws in the world when it comes to drug possession, use and trafficking. Furthermore, there is no doubting the effectiveness of the stringent laws when one looks at the absolute number of illicit drug users and also as a 'per capita' calculation on the island republic.
CURRENT AVAILABLE SENTENCES IN SINGAPORE:
Possession or Consumption:
Heroin: Up to 10 Years of Imprisonment or S$20,000 fine or BOTH
Cannabis: Up to 10 Years of Imprisonment or S$20,000 fine or BOTH
Cocaine: Up to 10 years of imprisonment or S$20,000 fine or BOTH
Ecstacy: Up to 20 years of imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane
LSD: Up to 20 years of imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane
Methamphetamine: Up to 10 years of imprisonment or S$20,000 fine or BOTH
Alcohol: Not classed as a controlled substance - no penalty
Tobacco: Not classed as a controlled substance - no penalty
Illegal Traffic, Import or Export:
Ecstacy: Up to 30 years of imprisonment or imprisonment for life and 15 strokes of the cane
LSD: Up to 30 years of imprisonment or imprisonment for life and 15 strokes of the cane
Alcohol: Penalty determined by qty - usually fine and/or duty payable
Tobacco: Penalty determined by qty - usually fine and/or duty payable
Given the above, the first question that needs to be raised, is why 'hard' drugs such as ecstacy and LSD do not carry the death penalty, whereas cannabis does?
The second question (and the age old one in many countries), is why cannabis is classed in the penalty stakes with the hard drugs, while statistically the 'biggest killers' (alcohol and tobacco) are freely available in supermarkets and 7-11 stores?
As I have already mentioned, I am in no way advocating or promoting any drug, licit or illicit... I am just stating the facts and posing some questions... (I am not even much of a drinker)
ALCOHOL STATISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES
(Remember - alcohol consumption and/or possession is legal in Singapore)
Each year, a typical young person in the United States is inundated with more than 1,000 commercials for beer and wine coolers and several thousand fictional drinking incidents on television.
Alcohol is involved in 50% of all driving fatalities.
In the United States, every 30 minutes someone is killed in an alcohol related traffic accident.
Over 15 million Americans are dependent on alcohol. 500,000 are between the age of 9 and 12.
Each year the liquor industry spends almost $2 billion dollars on advertising and encouraging the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Americans spend over $90 billion dollars total on alcohol each year.
An average American may consume over 25 gallons of beer, 2 gallons of wine, and 1.5 gallons of distilled spirits each year.
Pregnant women who drink are feeding alcohol to their babies. Unfortunately the underdeveloped liver of the baby can only burn alcohol at half the rate of its mother, so the alcohol stays in the baby's system twice as long.
Each year students spend $5.5 billion on alcohol, more then they spend on soft drinks, tea, milk, juice, coffee, or books combined.
56% of students in grade 5 to 12 say that alcohol advertising encourages them to drink.
6.6% of employees in full time jobs report heavy drinking, defined as drinking five or more drinks per occasion on five or more days in the past 30 days.
The highest percentage of heavy drinkers (12.2%) is found among unemployed adults between the age of 26 to 34
Up to 40% of all industrial fatalities and 47% of industrial injuries can be linked to alcohol consumption and alcoholism.
In 2000, almost 7 million persons age 12 to 20 was a binge drinker; that is about one in five persons under the legal drinking age was a binge drinker.
The 2001 survey shows 25 million (one in ten) Americans surveyed reported driving under the influence of alcohol. This report is nearly three million more than the previous year. Among young adults age 18 to 25 years, almost 23% drove under the influence of alcohol.
Drunk driving is proving to be even deadlier then what we previously know. The latest death statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), using a new method of calculation show that 17,488 people where killed in alcohol related traffic accidents last year. This report represents nearly 800 more people where killed than the previous year.
Alcohol is the number 1 drug problem in America.
43% of Americans have been exposed to alcoholism in their families.
Nearly one out of 4 Americans admitted to general hospitals have alcohol problems or are undiagnosed alcoholics being diagnosed for alcohol related consequences.
Alcohol and alcohol related problems is costing the American economy at least $100 million in health care and lost of productivity every year.
Four in ten criminal offenders report alcohol as a factor in violence.
Among spouse violence victims, three out of four incidents were reported to have involved alcohol use by the offender.
In 1996, local law enforcement agencies made an estimated 1,467,300 arrests nationwide for driving under the influence of alcohol
(Remember - cannabis consumption and/or possession is illegal in Singapore)
According to the UN's estimate, 141 million people around the world use marijuana. This represents about 2.5 percent of the world population.
Among teens 12 to 17, the average age of first trying marijuana was 14 years old.
Data has shown that people high on marijuana show the same lack of coordination on standard "drunk driver" tests as do people who have had to much to drink.
Reaction time for motor skills, such as driving is reduced by 41% after smoking 1 joint and is reduced 63% after smoking 2 joints.
Among teens 12 to 17, the average age of first trying marijuana was 14 years old.
Marijuana is a complex material containing 421 chemicals, 60 of which are only found in marijuana
Marijuana is California's largest cash crop.
600,000 Canadians have a criminal record for simple possession of marijuana
65% of people arrested for marijuana related crimes are for simple possession.
Approximately 50,000 Canadians are arrested each year for marijuana related crimes.
Trends in alcohol consumption in Singapore 1992–2004: ABSTRACT
(Wei-Yen Lim, Chee Weng Fong, Jacqelene Meow Ling Chan, Derrick Heng, Vineta Bhalla and Suok Kai Chew)
Aims: To present trends in alcohol consumption between 1992 and 2004 in Singapore. Methods: Alcohol consumption data were derived from national health surveys conducted in 1992, 1998 and 2004. Age-adjusted prevalence of frequent (drinking 1–4 days a week), regular (drinking more than 4 days a week) and binge (having five or more drinks during a drinking session at least once in the month) drinking by gender and age group for the three surveys were compared. Multivariate analyses for binge drinking in 2004 were performed using logistic regression models.
Results: Prevalence of frequent, regular and binge drinking increased between 1992 and 2004. Prevalence increase in binge drinking was highest (from 5.1 to 10.0%), followed by frequent drinking (from 4.5 to 7.5%) and regular drinking (from 2.9 to 3.1%). Uptake in binge drinking increased in both genders and across all age groups but was most evident among adults aged 18–29. Frequent drinking increase was observed for both genders but was most pronounced among women aged 18–29. The level of regular drinking declined in men but increased in women, especially those aged 18–29 and 30–49. Being younger, male, separated, divorced or widowed, a current smoker, or having a monthly household income of S$6000 and above were attributes positively associated with binge drinking. Conclusions: Alcohol consumption, especially binge drinking, has increased among Singaporeans between 1992 and 2004. There is gender convergence in alcohol consumption.
CANNABIS LAWS IN OTHER COUNTRIES
Some people in Singapore may read this article and ask the question: "How does he consider Cannabis to be a 'soft' drug?"... this is a very valid question, and one which has been addressed and answered in many countries around the world.
When the question of decriminilization of cannabis has risen in many countries, trials and case studies have been undertaken, and the scientific evidence is overwhelming. This has led to either the decriminilization or downright legalization of cannabis possession, use and even production (growing) for personal use.
Furthermore, by taking the 'criminal' element out of the equation, the 'age old' falacy of 'marijauna use leads to heavier drugs' becomes a bit of an 'old wives tale'. It has been shown that the association with criminal elements as a result of the prohibition is what exposes the normal innocent person to try heavier drugs - the drug dealer is usually selling a wide variety of products.
INTERESTING ARTICLE BY FROSTY WOOLDRIDGE
MARIJUANA PROHIBITION AND PUBLIC SAFETY IN THE US
By Frosty Wooldridge
March 17, 2008
After the first seven interviews with my brother Police Officer and Detective Howard Wooldridge of Lansing, Michigan (retired) concerning the “War on Drugs,” hundreds of readers responded. U.S. taxpayers do not understand the incredible deception perpetrated on them by the Drug War. You might even term it a “racket” by those who stand in the power corridors of Washington, DC.
Officer Wooldridge talked with Senator Biden (D-DE) last month. Senator Biden (D-DE) said at a hearing in February 2008 that drug prohibition touches 60 percent of all crime in America. Wooldridge advised to dramatically reduce crime, death, disease and drug use, the U.S. must end the prohibition approach on the 10 most used drugs.
“My experience agrees with the senator’s statement,” Officer Wooldridge said. “As a police officer, my goal was to keep my community safe, once they left their homes. What are the steps to ending this 94 year running failed policy of prohibition?
“Many experts agree that the first drug to become legal and regulated will be marijuana. As DEA law judge Francis Young concluded after an exhaustive study of cannabis: “Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.” Its use has rarely been a public safety issue. One cannot overdose on it. Moreover, its legalization would be a tremendous boost to improve public safety. Why? Road officers spend million of hours searching cars for a baggie of pot. They could concentrate on the deadly DUI and reckless drivers. They would be re-directed to find and arrest the child predators on line looking for a 13 year old girl. Federal agents could completely focus on Al Qaeda and stop wasting time on medical marijuana gardens in California.”
National marijuana prohibition began in 1937. Since then, local and state police officers spent tens of millions of hours searching for and arresting users and sellers. Did this expenditure improve public safety? No! Has prohibition caused an increase or decrease in use? Can we name any positive returns on the investment of money, prison space and police time? These constitute important questions to ask in the century of 9/11 and a recession.
“Starting my police career in the ‘70s, I quickly learned that alcohol use caused the vast majority of calls for service,” Officer Wooldridge said. “More teens died from alcohol use than all the illegal drugs combined. DUIs causing injury and death, drunks shooting each other, assaults, spouse and child abuse cases, etc., constituted the majority of my police work after sunset. During my 18 years, the use of marijuana never once caused me to be dispatched to handle a problem. Alcohol use generated about 1200 police calls.”
NETHERLANDS CRIME STATISTICS
(WHERE NEARLY ANY SUBSTANCE IS LEGAL)
Variable Amount/description Rank
Crime > Assaults 44,129 [14th of 58]
Crime > Car thefts (per capita) 2.33559 per 1,000 people [15th of 55]
Crime Drug offences 47 per 100,000 people 20th of 36
Crime > Illicit drugs major European producer of ecstasy, illicit amphetamines, and other synthetic drugs; important gateway for cocaine, heroin, and hashish entering Europe; major source of US-bound ecstasy; large financial sector vulnerable to money laundering
Crime > Murders 183 [40th of 63]
Crime > Murders (per capita) 0.0111538 per 1,000 people [51st of 62]
Crime > Rapes 1,648 [20th of 66]
Crime > Rapes (per capita) 0.100445 per 1,000 people [22nd of 65]
Crime > Total crimes 1,305,640 [14th of 61]
Crime > Total crimes (per capita) 79.5779 per 1,000 people
Variable Amount/description Rank
Crime > Assaults 2,238,480 [1st of 58]
Crime > Car thefts (per capita) 3.8795 per 1,000 people [9th of 55]
Crime > Drug Offenses (per capita) 560.1 per 100,000 people [4th of 34]
Crime > Murders 12,658 [6th of 63]
Crime > Murders (per capita) 0.042802 per 1,000 people [24th of 62]
Crime > Murders with firearms 8,259 [4th of 32]
Crime > Murders with firearms (per capita) 0.0279271 per 1,000 people [8th of 32]
Crime > Rapes 89,110 [1st of 66]
Crime > Rapes (per capita) 0.301318 per 1,000 people [9th of 65]
Crime > Total crimes 23,677,800 [1st of 61]
Crime > Total crimes (per capita) 80.0645 per 1,000 people [8th of 60]
All of the above is a bit of 'mish-mash' of data and there is much more available supporting both sides of the camp... my main question here is this - should the illegal importation of cannabis bring the same penalty as that of heroin - DEATH? Should we suggest DEATH to those importing alcohol?
Monday, June 23, 2008
Home Asia Singapore World Should Singapore Law Distinguish Between Soft And Hard Drugs When It Come To The Death Penalty?
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