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Drug Trafficking – Misuse of Drugs Act Singapore

by | Apr 21, 2020 | DRUGS, Trafficking

The law

Under section 5(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap. 185, 2008 Rev Ed) (MDA), it is an offence for a person to traffic in a controlled drug. A person commits this offence if he has drugs in his possession for the purpose of trafficking. The list of controlled drugs can be found in the First Schedule of the MDA.


For trafficking large quantities of the following drugs:

  1. Opium;
  2. Morphine;
  3. Diamorphine;
  4. Cocaine;
  5. Cannabis; and
  6. Methamphetamine,

convicted offenders can expect to face a long imprisonment term of 20 to 30 years and 15 strokes of the cane. Where the quantity of drugs trafficked exceeds the following quantities for the respective drugs, the mandatory death penalty will be imposed.

  1. Opium: more than 1,200 grams and containing more than 30 grams of morphine;
  2. Controlled drug other than opium containing morphine: more than 30 grams of morphine;
  3. Controlled drug containing diamorphine: more than 15 grams of diamorphine;
  4. Controlled drug containing cocaine: more than 30 grams of cocaine;
  5. Cannabis: more than 500 grams;
  6. Cannabis mixture: more than 1,000 grams;
  7. Cannabis resin: more than 200 grams and
  8. Methamphetamine: more than 250 grams.

The punishments for first-time offenders of drug trafficking in the case of any other drug, or smaller quantities of the drugs above, are as follows:

Class A drug: Maximum – 20 years’ imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane

Minimum – 5 years’ imprisonment and 5 strokes of the cane

Class B drug: Maximum – 20 years’ imprisonment and 10 strokes of the cane

Minimum – 3 years’ imprisonment and 3 strokes of the cane

Class C drug: Maximum – 10 years’ imprisonment and 5 strokes of the cane

Minimum – 2 years’ imprisonment and 2 strokes of the cane

Presumption concerning trafficking

Under section 17 of the MDA, any person who has had in his possession more than —

(a) 100 grams of opium;
(b) 3 grams of morphine;
(c) 2 grams of diamorphine;
(d) 15 grams of cannabis;
(e) 30 grams of cannabis mixture;
(f) 10 grams of cannabis resin;
(g) 3 grams of cocaine;
(h) 25 grams of methamphetamine;
(ha) 113 grams of ketamine; or
(i) 10 grams of any or any combination of the following:

(i) N, α-dimethyl-3,4-(methylenedioxy)phenethylamine;
(ii) α-methyl-3,4-(methylenedioxy)phenethylamine; or
(iii) N-ethyl-α-methyl-3,4-(methylenedioxy)phenethylamine

regardless of what form that quantity of drug is in, shall be presumed to have had that drug in his possession for the purpose of trafficking unless it is proved that his possession of that drug was not for that purpose.

In cases where this section applies, the burden of proof is on the accused to prove that he did not possess the drug for the purposes of trafficking (ie. The drugs were for his own use). If the court is satisfied that this is indeed the case, the charge of drug trafficking under s5(1) of the MDA can be then substituted with a charge of possession of a controlled drug under s8(a) of the same act.

Youthful offenders

Our courts have consistently ruled that the dominant sentencing consideration in the case of youthful offenders is rehabilitation, even when the offence committed is as serious as drug trafficking. This is because youthful offenders are generally more receptive towards sentencing options which seek to alter their principles and guide them back onto the straight and narrow.

In February 2020, a young offender was sentenced to 27 months’ probation for trafficking cannabis to an undercover Central Narcotics Bureau officer. The offender was a few months shy of his 21st birthday when he had pleaded guilty to the charge under section 5(1) of the MDA.

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For more information, please contact our criminal lawyer, Ray Louis, at 9090 8288.