Brunei maintains zero drug tolerance stance

Azlan Othman

Brunei Darussalam reaffirmed its position by objecting to the six proposed recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD), during the 63rd Reconvened Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) virtual meeting held on December 2-4.

The session was chaired by Ambassador Mansoor Ahmad Khan, the Permanent Representative of Pakistan at the United Nations in Vienna.

The CND meeting was held to witness a voting session on recommendations regarding deleting and changing the scheduling of cannabis and cannabis-related substances in the Single Convention on Narcotics Drug 1961 and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), together with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Ministry of Health (MoH), followed in-depth discussions on the proposal through three topical meetings and at the 2nd Intersessional Meeting, which has been held virtually since June.

The NCB stressed that the country remains steadfast under the stance of zero tolerance approach to protect the future of the citizens and residents of Brunei Darussalam from the effects and dangers of drug abuse, to realise the aspirations of Drug Free ASEAN.

On December 2, as a result of voting from 53 CND member countries, only one proposal for the elimination of cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the Single Convention on Narcotics Drug 1961 was accepted by gaining support votes from 27 countries.

However, cannabis and cannabis resin remains in Schedule I, Single Convention on Narcotics Drug 1961. Acceptance of this proposal has allowed access to the use of cannabis drugs for medical and research purposes only, and still remains under international control and monitoring.

The meeting was attended by NCB Director Mohd Zalani bin Haji Ismail as the delegation head, together with senior officials from the NCB, PMO and MoH.

The CND meeting was established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) through Resolution 9 (1) on February 16, 1946, as the body that monitors and examines drug-related policies and the implementation of the three drug conventions, namely Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961; Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971; and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 1988.

Brunei Darussalam is adopting a strategy to reduce the supply and demand of drugs through the enforcement of drug crime laws, while at the same time enhancing drug prevention education programmes to the public, as well as providing treatment and rehabilitation services for drug abuse.

Despite the proposal for the scheduling of cannabis drugs having already been accepted, cannabis type drugs still remain the strictest Class A controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 27 in Brunei Darussalam. So far, the NCB has detained 26 people suspected of involvement in cannabis abuse and seized 1,247 kilogrammes of suspected cannabis.