A man who imported cannabis candy and grew the plant at home has become the first person convicted, Singapore News

A man who imported cannabis candy and grew the plant at home has become the first person convicted, Singapore News

SINGAPORE – A Singaporean man has been sentenced to prison and caning for importing cannabis-infused sweets and treats in the Republic’s first conviction for importing cannabis edibles.

Mohamed Zulhelmi Salimi, 32, pleaded guilty on December 18 to one count of importing controlled drugs, one count of drug consumption, and one count of possession of utensils intended for drug consumption.

He also grew three cannabis plants in his Housing Board flat in Bedok Reservoir Road, a charge taken into account when sentencing.

Dzulhelme was sentenced to five years and four months in prison and caned five times.

The court heard that Dzulhilmi bought the edible cannabis by contacting someone he knew only as “Nabil” via the Telegram mobile app.

Nabil lived in the United Kingdom and sold cannabis and sweets containing THC, a substance found in cannabis.

Sometime before 19 October 2022, Dzulhilmi ordered 20 boxes of sweets from Nabil and paid him £200 (S$337) in Bitcoin through a friend.

Zulhelmi asked Nabil to keep one box for himself and repackage the remaining 19 boxes of sweets to make him look less suspicious before shipping them to Singapore.

However, Nabil told him that the packages looked good and there was no need to repack them. He then shipped a package containing the 19 packages to the defendant’s home by registered mail.

Meanwhile, Dzulhilmi arranged to sell four boxes of candy to his friends — three for “Ja” and one for “Kasman” — for $180 in total.

The parcel was intercepted by an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officer at the SingPost center in Eunos on 19 October 2022, before being delivered to Dzulhelme’s residence.

The officer discovered abnormalities in the X-ray images of the package. After further investigations, the package was seized and handed over to the Central Narcotics Control Bureau.

Photos provided by CNB show the bright and colorful candy packaging, some of which resemble popular candy brands. Cannabis edibles came in different colors and looked like harmless candy and sweets.

Cannabis edibles came in different colors and looked like harmless candy and sweets. Photo: Central Bureau of Narcotics

Cannabis edibles came in different colors and looked like harmless candy and sweets. Photo: Central Bureau of Narcotics

On the same day, NCB officers arrested Dzulhelmi at his home. Officers found cannabis plants, loose cannabis and drug paraphernalia in his room.

Dzulhilmi admitted that he had consumed cannabis that day. A subsequent urine test also contained traces of the drug.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Eugene Lau asked for five to six years’ imprisonment and five to six strokes of the cane for the crime of drug importation.

The prosecutor said it was justified to raise the mandatory minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment because Dzulhelme not only imported the drugs for his own consumption but also arranged to sell them to his friends.

Defense lawyer Ramesh Tiwari said this was Dzulhelme’s first crime. The lawyer also noted that his client cooperated fully during the investigations and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

In response to the issue, an NCB spokesperson reminded the public that consuming or importing any controlled drugs, including cannabis products or edibles, is illegal in Singapore.

Even when overseas, any Singaporean citizen or permanent resident found to be consuming controlled drugs will be liable for the offense of drug consumption, the spokesperson said.

In an earlier response to The Straits Times after Thailand legalized cannabis in June 2022, CNB said scientific evidence showed cannabis was addictive and harmful, citing global bodies such as the International Narcotics Control Board and studies highlighting the harmful effects of cannabis in the long term. Use, such as increased risk of developing psychotic symptoms or schizophrenia.

Faced with a rise in the use of cannabinoids, such as sweets and cakes, in other countries, CNB said these were “irresponsibly marketed as harmless consumables”.

“The harmless appearance of these products may tempt unsuspecting young people to consume them, get poisoned and risk overdose,” she added.

A January 2023 New York Times article noted that incidental consumption of edible cannabis among children under the age of six has risen in recent years in the United States, according to a published study.

The most common health outcome experienced by children was central nervous system depression. Symptoms include drowsiness, low blood pressure, and difficulty speaking, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Read also: A Singaporean jailed in South Korea on charges of running an international drug ring

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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