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The irony of investing $25 million into cannabis research

As Singapore announces a new $25-million Synthetic Biology Research and Development (R&D) programme to study the sustainable production of medicinal cannabinoids, 6 youths have been arrested for the possession of cannabis. While the new research programme into cannabinoids is hailed as groundbreaking science which will help boost Singapore’s research into synthetic biology, these 6 youths who have been arrested will likely be presumed as drug traffickers and face the death penalty.

I appreciate that while one group is experimenting with cannabis under the guise of science for medicinal purposes, the other is illegally smuggling. There is clearly a difference. That said, is the dividing line between the two scenarios so wide that while the formal is hailed with great fanfare, the latter is potentially greeted by the gallows?

Isn’t it ironic that a country that can appreciate the uses of cannabis and indeed wants a part in the cultivation of it will also send teenagers to the gallows for experimenting with the same drug?

While many countries across the world are legalising Cannabis, Singapore (a proud first world country) persists in the presuming that anyone carrying more than 500 grams of Cannabis is a drug trafficker thereby attracting the death penalty. Given that Singapore clearly recognises the potential medicinal properties of cannabis, is it not high time to update its outdated laws on Cannabis? At the very least, should the presumption of guilt on people who carry more than 500 grams of cannabis be dropped?

That’s what I find the most confusing thing about the Singapore government. On the one hand, it will say that Singapore seeks to be a place which attracts new and divergent ideas. But by the same token, it will punish its citizens for raising ideas that seem to contradict government views. Another example is when it says it wants to protect minority voices in government but proceeds to offer the minorities the most politically powerless position in the land. What about saying that it has no plans to raise the Goods and Services tax before the general election of 2015 and backtracking on this promise recently? Further, while pledging to ensure that no one is left behind, it then proceeds to announce raises in electricity and water.

Seriously guys, what is going on?

They are now doing the exact same thing with cannabis – sending mixed signals. What exactly is the government’s position on issues? It seems that it isn’t possible to get a clear picture. I am still scratching my head.