Why the death penalty for cannabis?

The following is a message from Tangaraju and other prisoners on death row for cannabis. It has been edited for language, clarity, and the addition of hyperlinks.

It is undisputed that cannabis is organic, and not a synthetic drug. We are not here to dispute the fact that cannabis could be harmful. But we argue that the detrimental effects of cannabis are far less than other illicit drugs, including those that do not attract the death penalty in Singapore.

Cannabis has been decriminalised by an increasing number of countries and jurisdictions around the world. Germany is currently taking steps to legalise and regulate the cultivation and possession of cannabis. Thailand has also decriminalised cannabis, and our neighbour, Malaysia, has shown an interest in studying the Thai example in legalising medical marijuana.

We are not lobbying for the decriminalisation of cannabis in Singapore. We just don’t see the logic of imposing the death penalty for it. From what we’ve read in the papers — to the best of our knowledge — no one in Singapore has died from consuming cannabis.

Everything, taken excessively, has detrimental effects. Even alcohol, cigarettes, betel leaves, etc. Yet there is a great discrepancy in our response to different substances: some attract the death penalty, some are criminalised but are not capital offences, and others are legalised and regulated.

It is just illogical to know that countries nearby are enjoying cannabis in food and beverages, and using it for its medical benefits, while our country is executing people for the very same substance.

It is difficult to accept that, while more and more countries are adopting measures to regulate cannabis to keep users safe, we are in a country that not only jails and punishes people for cannabis-related offences, but also wants to take our lives for it.


The authorities intend to hang Tangaraju for attempting to traffic cannabis on Wednesday (26 April), even though he neither saw nor touched the drugs.

If you’d like to ask President Halimah Yacob to grant him clemency, you can refer to this template: tinyurl.com/clemencyfortangaraju

Apart from Tangaraju, at least five other prisoners are on death row in Singapore for cannabis.

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