Legalising marijuana, morphine can reduce prison costs, law minister tells Parliament

Liew told the Dewan Rakyat that the maintenance cost per convict in prison is roughly around RM38 to RM41 each day. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Liew told the Dewan Rakyat that the maintenance cost per convict in prison is roughly around RM38 to RM41 each day. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — Datuk Liew Vui Keong today said that the government can reduce prison maintenance costs if certain dangerous drugs such as morphine and cannabis (marijuana) are reclassified, as these have medicinal value.

During the debate on the Midterm Review of the 11th Malaysia Plan (RMK11), the minister in charge of law in the Prime Minister’s Department told the Dewan Rakyat that the maintenance cost per convict in prison is roughly around RM38 to RM41 each day.

“When I spoke to the Prison Department officers on drugs such as heroin, morphine, cannabis...the officers laughed because they said those are old era drugs. The trend nowadays are meth amphetamines, synthetic drugs.

“If we redefine (dangerous) drugs, seeing that there are medicinal use for marijuana and morphine which is used for cancer patients, and legalise it instead of making it illegal, we could reduce the numbers of convicts in prison,” said Liew.

Currently, the government is forking out RM2,478,436 a day for 65,222 convicts in prison. Out of that figure, 36,313 or 55 per cent of them were convicted for drug related offences.

However, Liew did not disclose how many were convicted because of marijuana or morphine related offences.

Recently the government had said it would look at legalising marijuana or cannabis for medicinal purposes.

On a related note, Liew also said that it only takes 15 seconds to execute a convict, costing the government RM1,975 and RM2,775.

“The time to execute a death row inmate takes 15 seconds — from death row down to the execution chamber. The cost of execution is RM1,975 and if no family members are there to claim the body, it will costs the government another RM800,” said Liew.

Currently there are 1,281 convicts on death row.

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