Singapore is known for having some of the strictest drug laws in the world. Even the smallest possession of a controlled substance can lead to severe punishments, up to and including execution. To say this Southeastern Asian country is the last place a person wants to get caught holding a bag of marijuana would be a gross understatement.
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But the laws could eventually change, at least for those people with legitimate ailments. It was revealed earlier this week that this nation, where death is believed to be suitable recourse for those people caught with drugs, is preparing to explore the medical benefits of the cannabis plant.
A recent report from the Sun Daily indicates that Singapore is preparing to invest nearly $20 million in the development of synthetic cannabinoids. The goal is to do this as a way to boost the nation’s “bio-based economy.” The initiative, which is called Synthetic Biology Research and Development Programme, will be conducted over the span of five years. Those connected to the project say it will create new industries and job opportunities.
Singapore’s National Research Foundation says it plans to manufacture various strains of medical cannabinoids, specifically those that have been shown effective in the treatment of neurological afflictions, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
The compounds will be produced in conjunction with the National University of Singapore, the report shows.
As it stands medical marijuana is nowhere even close to legal in Singapore. Anyone caught with what the country considers a large amount of cannabis (500 grams or more) is automatically labeled a drug trafficker. In this situation, the death penalty is almost always the chosen punishment.
Even those folks caught with small amounts of the herb (less than 15 grams) can end up paying fines in upwards of $20,000 and serving 10 years in prison.
In 2003, Shanmugam “Sam” Murugesu was arrested after a kilo of marijuana was discovered in his luggage. Although the man did not have a previous criminal record and even served eight years in the Singapore military, he was convicted of drug trafficking and executed in 2005.
It is not yet known whether Singapore’s newfound interest in medical marijuana research will eventually lead to less restrictive laws for those caught in possession of the herb.