Four in ten Singaporeans believe in legalization of medical marijuana; majority oppose recreational use

Photo: tanjila ahmed / Flickr

As Thailand gears up to legalize medical marijuana by December (a wonderful new year gift!) and Malaysia mulls the medical value of cannabis, the Singapore government is in no way considering weed to be anything other than evil.

That official opinion, however, may contrast to the views of actual Singaporeans, according to a study conducted by UK-based market research company YouGov. Surprisingly, quite a number of local residents believe that marijuana does have medicinal value and it should be legalized for medical purposes.

In a survey that involved 1,009 Singaporean respondents last month, six in ten Singaporeans believe that weed does have medicinal merits, while 10 percent are convinced in the opposite view. The remaining thirty percent aren’t sure if marijuana has any medicinal value.

The issue on whether the substance should be legalized here, however, appears to be highly divisive. 39 percent of Singaporeans agree that marijuana should be legalized for medical use — more so than the 28 percent who oppose it. What’s interesting though is the fact that not many Singaporeans believe that 420 fun times should be decriminalized: 67 percent disagree that marijuana should be legalized for recreational use. Only 14 percent of the respondents believe it should.

Graphic: YouGov
Graphic: YouGov

The research also found out that the opposition to recreational marijuana use comes more from the population of higher earners, with 76 percent of those with a household income of $8,000 and above a month not wanting it to be legalized.

Obviously, more than half of Singaporeans diagnosed with medical conditions that could potentially be treated with marijuana (such as depression, chronic pain, and anxiety) are in favor of supporting weed legalization.

“Overall, over one in ten (11%) Singaporeans support legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use,” noted YouGov. “This is compared to four in ten (43%) Brits and five in ten (52%) Americans.”

Separately, the YouGov study also revealed that Singaporeans rank heroin as the most harmful drug out of a given list of addictive substances. Tobacco was viewed to be more harmful than alcohol, while marijuana and cocaine are viewed as equally harmful, but not as much as LSD.

Graphic: YouGov
Graphic: YouGov

“The debate on medical marijuana is a hotly contested one, and it appears Singaporeans remain divided on the issue,” stated Jake Gammon, Head of YouGov Ombnibus in APAC. “There are plenty of factors swaying one’s opinion on whether or not legalization should take place; be it gender, income group or, most notably, whether a person suffers from an illness medical marijuana can potentially treat.”

#NoChill Singapore

Video screengrab
Video screengrab

Despite the global softening of attitudes towards dank kush, legalization of marijuana will never, ever see the light of day here as long as the current ruling government is in power. On a number of occasions, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam issued strong words in support of Singapore’s hardline stance against drug offenses.

“We don’t buy into this nonsense that drugs are good for you. If science says so, then okay. But we have not seen such scientific evidence as yet,” Channel NewsAsia quoted him in September.

Back in 2016 (and on international Weed Day) he had some pretty strong words against the legalization of cannabis in a speech during a UN General Assembly in New York. In response to ministers from Jamaica and Canada, Shanmugam mentioned that he remained unmoved by everything he heard at the meeting, fiercely attesting that Singapore will never soften its drug policies.

In light of Canada’s recent nationwide legalization of recreational cannabis, Singapore’s Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) thought it fit to remind Singaporeans that any citizen or permanent resident found to have abused controlled drugs overseas are still liable to be penalized here.

“A literature review conducted by the Institute of Mental Health experts affirmed the addictive and harmful nature of cannabis, and that it damages the brain,” affirmed CNB.

“There is scant evidence of the safety and efficacy of long-term cannabis use. These findings corroborate our position that cannabis should remain an illicit drug.”

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