It is “wrong and dangerous” to view cannabis as a soft drug, said the Second Minister for Home Affairs, Masagos Zulkifli.
He said this was despite lobbyists around the world calling for the drug, also known as marijuana, to be legalised.
Mr Masagos was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 20th Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign carnival at Suntec City on Friday.
While such “myths” that cannabis is not as harmful as other drugs have been perpetuated online through social media and “foreign news reports”, he said such claims have not been proved.
For example, the so-called medicinal benefits of marijuana “are not conclusive”, the minister said.
He added that the drug has also not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Additionally, he said that cannabis is addictive and “especially harmful to young people”.
The cases of drug abusers arrested have also seen an increase in Singapore the last five years.
The Straits Times reports that “there were 1,110 abusers aged under 30 arrested last year, up 34 per cent from 826 in 2010.”
This is despite Singapore’s strict anti-drug laws, which include the mandatory death penalty for traffickers involved in carrying drugs over various statutory thresholds.
“My message to youths is this: Keep saying no to drugs, whatever form they come in,” Mr Masagos said. “They will ruin your lives and your future.”
Also on Friday, several Members of Parliament (MP) gave their opinion on a study commissioned by the Task Force on Youths and Drugs.
The study found that youths held more liberal attitudes towards drugs, especially cannabis. They are also influenced in their views by social media and celebrities who may endorse such drugs.
The TODAY newspaper quoted Tin Pei Ling, MP for Marine Parade GRC and a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Home Affairs and Law, as having said:
“(Social media) is definitely an important channel because there is so much information out there and you must make sure that the right (stuff) is available.”
Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan felt that parents are an important point of contact for children and that parents should keep tabs on what their children are doing.
“Once you lose track, then your children can mix with company that will encourage them to experiment with drugs,” he said.
In the meantime, The New Paper (TNP) reported on Friday that K4, the synthetic variation of marijuana, and other “deadly mix of narcotics” are being openly sold in a Geylang coffeeshop by a group of peddlers.
The paper said:
“The group [of peddlers], which includes two pushers and several runners, sets up shop at a table in the rear of the coffee shop late at night. During the stakeout earlier this week, TNP saw 14 customers, mostly men in their 20s, approaching the pushers over a two-hour period. The availability of such drugs as synthetic marijuana raises concerns because of the rising number of young abusers, who mistakenly believe these drugs are less addictive and cannot be detected.”