The Executive Yuan yesterday approved draft amendments to the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例), which would allow prosecutors to take alternative measures against users of illegal drugs who have received deferred prosecution, such as fining them or having them write a letter of repentance, instead of sending them to rehabilitation facilities.
Under existing rules, drug abusers awarded deferred prosecution must undergo rehabilitation.
However, not all drug abusers have developed an addiction and not all of them need rehabilitation, Ministry of Justice Department of Prosecutorial Affairs Director Lee Hau-sung (李濠松) told a weekly news conference at the Executive Yuan.
If passed, the draft amendments would allow prosecutors to use their discretion to judge whether a drug abuser needs to undergo rehabilitation.
Those who are exempted from rehabilitation would be asked to write a letter of repentance, pay a fine, take regular urine tests or perform community service, the proposal says.
One proposed amendment would allow confiscated narcotics that are deemed dangerous or degradable to be destroyed once sampled, so that they would not have to be kept until after a court ruling, which is laborious, Lee said.
Another seeks to allow authorities to take a small amount of confiscated narcotics to be used as standard samples, instead of the current practice of importing samples from other countries, which would help cut costs, he said.
A key proposal states that people found to have used or be in possession of more dangerous class A or class B drugs, as well as lower-ranked class C or class D drugs, or any combination thereof, would face criminal charges, Lee said.
Current laws state that people found to be in possession of or use class C or class D drugs are punishable by administrative penalties, meaning they would not have criminal records, he said.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration has invested NT$10 billion (US$328.9 million) in its battle against narcotics, tackling illegal drugs at the community level and raising penalties for drug manufacturers, dealers and traffickers.
The latest batch of proposed amendments would allow law enforcement authorities to take more fitting measures against people convicted of drug offenses, he said.
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