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close this bookDrug Use and HIV Vulnerability (UNAIDS, 2001, 238 p.)
close this folderChapter 4: Malaysia
close this folderIV. Findings
View the documentA. Patterns of drug use
View the documentB. Epidemiology of drug use
View the documentC. Government responses to drug use
View the documentD. Legislation and application of laws
View the documentE. Evaluation of law enforcement strategies
View the documentF. Risk of HIV infection in prisons
View the documentG. Treatment and rehabilitation
View the documentH. HIV/AIDS

D. Legislation and application of laws

Malaysia is a party to the Single Convention on Narcotics, 1961, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971, Convention against Illicit Trafficking of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.

National legislation pertaining to the control of narcotics and psychotropic substances include the following:

(a) Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 (Act 234) (revised 1980);

(b) Poisons Act 1952 (revised 1989) and Poisons (Psychotropic Substances) Regulations 1989;

(c) The Drug Dependants (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act 1983 (Act 283) & Regulations & Rules;

(d) Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985;

(e) Code of Conduct for Pharmacists and Bodies Corporate 1989;

(f) Sale of Drugs Act 1952 (Act 368);

(g) Registration of Pharmacists Act 1951 (Act 371) (As at 15th December 1997);

(h) Poisons Act 1952 (Act 366) and Poisons Regulations;

(i) Control of drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984;

(j) Sale of Drugs Act (Act 368);

(k) Registration of Pharmacists Act 1951.

Under the national legislation, all narcotics including the synthetic substances and Schedule I substances listed under the Single Convention on Narcotics 1961 and the Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971, respectively, are controlled as “dangerous drugs” under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 (revised 1980). Amphetamine and methamphetamine (Schedule II substances) have also been controlled as “dangerous drugs” under the Act with effect from 18 December 1997. Under this Act, “trafficking” of any dangerous drug carries a mandatory death sentence. There is also a special provision for presumption of “trafficking”. Possession of a specified quantity of substances like heroin (15 g.), morphine (15g.), cocaine (40g.) and cannabis (200g.) shall be presumed to be “trafficking” unless the contrary is proved. Possession of up to 5 grams of opium or cannabis will result in no less than 5 years in prison and a 20,000 Ringgit fine; possession of 5-15 grams of heroin can result in a life sentence while having more than 15 grams of heroin attracts a mandatory death penalty.

Under Malaysian law, a person found in possession of drugs or drug-taking paraphernalia is recognised as a trafficker. If found in possession of illicit drugs or drug injection paraphernalia (such as needle and syringe), a person will be charged with a drug possession offence. If convicted, they are liable to receive a lengthy prison sentence. Police strictly observe their powers to arrest and detain any person for up to 14 days for urine drug testing on suspicion of illicit drug use.

The Poisons Act 1952 is aimed at controlling the import, possession, sale and use of poisons. The term 'poison' refers to any substance specified in the poisons list and includes any mixture, preparation, solution or natural substance containing such substance other than an exempted preparation or an article or preparation included for the time being in the Second Schedule of the Act. The control of any drug that does not appear under the First Schedule of The Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 would be controlled under this Act. This Act came into force in Peninsular Malaysia on 1 September 1952 and was extended to Sabah and Sarawak from 1 June 1978.

The types of poisons that fall under the control of this Act include substances used for industry, medicine and agriculture. Some poisons have been classified as psychotropic substances and can only be obtained through prescription by medical practitioners, veterinarians or dentists. Only pharmacists and doctors are empowered to sell these substances (Narcotics Report, 1996).

Psychotropic substances except those mentioned above, are controlled as “psychotropic substances” under the Poisons Act 1952 (revised 1989). Special regulations were promulgated in 1989 in order to comply fully with the requirements of the 1971 Convention. Under the existing legislation, all importation and exportation of narcotics and psychotropic substances requires import or export authorisation issued by the Ministry of Health.

The Drug Dependants (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act 1983 is considered to be a comprehensive piece of legislation covering treatment and rehabilitation. This Act came into force on 15 April 1983. The act provides for both compulsory treatment and rehabilitation of any person who has been certified as (drug) dependent as well as for voluntary programmes. The period of treatment and rehabilitation at rehabilitation centres is for two years. Two years of aftercare follows.

The Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985, basically a preventive detention law, came into force on 15 June 1985 replacing the Emergency (Public Order and Preventive of Crime) Ordinance 1969. It is aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of countermeasures taken by the relevant authorities against those who are involved in drug trafficking. It empowers the government to detain anyone suspected of being a trafficker without having to bring the suspect to any court of law. During 1996, a total of 1,112 persons were detained for suspected involvement in major drug activities.

As noted above, Malaysia has recently encountered use of methamphetamine, arising initially in the state of Sabah in East Malaysia. The number of cases and quantities seized by police are presented in Table 4.3.

Table 4.3 Amphetamine seizure in Malaysia


No. of Cases

No. of Arrests





1184.9 g.




1503.4 g.

Besides methamphetamine, Malaysia has also experienced the introduction of methylenedioxy methamphetamine (MDMA), otherwise known as 'ecstasy' in 1996, particularly within the dance scene. The import and export of anti-satiety pharmaceuticals have been closely monitored. The Ministry of Health initiated the monitoring of importation of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in 1995.