Drugs, alcohol laws outdated

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Laws and penalties related to alcohol and drug use and abuse are outdated, according to Constitutional and Law Reform Commission at the launching of its issues paper on Monday.
Legal officer Lucy Matthew said offences relating to the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs were serious but the penalties were lenient.
She gave the example of being drunk in a public place under the Summary Offenses Act: The penalty is a fine not exceeding K14.
Matthew said some of the issues identified, which could also be considered as social or economic issues, included:

  • Drinking and driving;
  • drinking in public places;
  • production and consumption of homebrew;
  • alcohol trading hours permitted;
  • alcohol ban triggering home brew production and consumptions;
  • drug trafficking;
  • drug smuggling;
  • under-age drinking; and,
  • Prevalence of marijuana production and consumption.

“There is lack of policy on drug abuse to inform lawmakers on the kind of changes that should be made,” Matthew said.
“Changing circumstances are not reflected in the existing law.
“The law needs to be updated.
“The laws and penalties related to alcohol and drug use and abuse are very outdated.”
Mathew said related laws which were outdated included:

  • Excise Beer Act 1952;
  • Distillation Act 1925;
  • Liquor (Licensing) Act 1963;
  • Liquor (Miscellaneous Provinces) Act 1973;
  • Dangerous Drugs Act (1952);
  • Poison and Dangerous Substance Act 1985;
  • Summary Offences Act (1977);
  • Criminal Code Act 1974;
  • National Narcotics Board Act 1992; and,
  • Motor Traffic Act.

Commission secretary Dr Eric Kwa said that at the end of the three-month consultation process on the review on laws on the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs, a draft report would be circulated to the public.
“There will be a second public forum in which the draft would be distributed for people to comment, which would take about a month,” he said.

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