A draft bill of amendments to the 1993 law published in newspapers in March proposes that drug users will no longer be punished with long prison sentences and will instead be offered treatment and rehabilitation.

The amendments provide for police to be able to send drug users to receive treatment at Ministry of Health and Sports medical facilities before being sent to rehabilitation centres. Adults will be required to attend the centres for two hours a day until they have completed a minimum of 180 hours and a maximum 240 hours of rehabilitation. Minors will be sent to child rehabilitation centres.

Drug Policy Advocacy Group-Myanmar coordinator Dr Nang Pann Ei Kham welcomed the government’s move to decriminalise drug use but said she was concerned some sections of the draft law lacked clarity. In particular, it is essential for the amendments to stipulate that treatment and rehabilitation programs are voluntary and appropriate to the needs of users, she said.

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