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Drug Punishments in the U.S vs. Asia

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Drugs are widespread in the United States, even though people never see them in the open. Many people in all four corners, of all ages and backgrounds, come into contact with drugs in some way or another, usually through drug use. To curb the amount of drugs in society, however, the United States Congress as well state legislatures have enacted laws making a whole host of drug-related activities into crimes.
One of most obvious acts related to drugs that has been made a crime is drug use. Using any sort drug other than tobacco, alcohol, or prescription drugs is illegal. People cannot smoke marijuana or consume it in any form. Ecstasy is completely illegal as well. Aside from these drugs, though, even others, like LSD, are illegal. These drugs that people usually associate with crime, however, are not the only drugs that are illegal. Even taking prescription drugs without having a prescription is against the law. The criminal penalties of drug use vary from state to state. Some states have very strict drug laws, while other states have more lenient drug laws.
To limit the amount of drugs and drug-related expenditures in society, however, laws have also been passed making drug possession illegal. Even having--not using--an illegal drug is against the law. Anyone caught with even a little amount of, say, marijuana may have to face a harsh criminal sentence entailing a lengthy prison term of several years as well as fines. Some states, though, are more lenient. For example, if someone is caught with less than one ounce of marijuana in the state of Massachusetts, then the person will face only civil charges, not criminal charges, and will have to pay a small fine.
Another type of drug-related crime is drug trafficking. Drug trafficking involves selling drugs or transporting drugs with the intent of selling them. Drug trafficking is both a state crime and a federal crime, though it depends on the exact situation. For example, if someone is caught selling or trying to sell drugs within a state locality only, then drug trafficking is only a state crime. If someone is trying to sell drugs between states, however, for example by moving them from one state to another in a car, then the drug trafficking becomes a federal crime.
For the most part, the laws are extremely intolerant of drug use, possession, and trafficking, and anyone conducting any of these drug-related activities can be sure that severe criminal penalties will ensue. Additionally, these laws apply also to prescription drugs that are not obtain through prescription.

All the mentioned above is a preface of what the rest of the world must endure for drug crimes. For example, getting caught for a drug crime is a serious offense in the United States, but it is treated like no other country in the world. This country has the freedom of free speech and press and believes in the right of  ' innocent until proven guilty' in the courts of law. In other countries, especially when drugs are involved, very harse penalties exist, including punishments up to the death penalty. The following is a highlighted list involving seperate countries regarding drug offenses, as highlighted in a CNN/Asia article immediately below.

Asia is a major source of opium and heroin for the world market, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. Consequently, across Asia, most countries have adopted a severe stance against drug-related crime, and heavy penalties -- including capital punishment -- have been widely adopted.
A Chinese policeman guards an illegal trafficker at a detention cell in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China.
A Chinese policeman guards an illegal trafficker
at a detention cell in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China.
Afghanistan
Offenders who possess, use, or traffic illegal drugs in Afghanistan face severe penalties and can face lengthy jail sentences and large fines.
Australia
The possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs in Australia can have severe consequences, with convicted offenders subject to long jail sentences and hefty fines.
Bangladesh
Those convicted of drug offences face mandatory prison sentences, even for small amounts of illegal drugs and can suffer the death penalty. Brunei imposes a mandatory death penalty on some drug offenses. Lesser penalties include long prison sentences and corporal punishment.
Cambodia
The punishment for offences even involving "soft drugs" are harsh and include long jail sentences.
China
China has harsh penalties for drug offences, including the death penalty.
India
Convicted offenders face severe penalties, including mandatory sentences and the death penalty, and the judicial process can be lengthy.
Indonesia
Those convicted of possessing even small amounts of recreational drugs face heavy fines and imprisonment and some offenses are punishable by the death penalty. Police target illegal drug use and possession across the country, particularly in popular areas in Bali and Jakarta.
Japan
Penalties for drug offences are severe and may include heavy fines, lengthy imprisonment and deportation. Under Japanese law you can be convicted of drug use based on positive blood or urine tests alone.

Laos
Offenders are subject to severe penalties, including the death penalty.
Malaysia
Convicted drug traffickers are subject to the mandatory death penalty. Lesser penalties for some drug offences include corporal punishment.

Myanmar
Myanmar imposes harsh penalties for drug offences, including the death penalty.
North Korea
Penalties are severe and parole is rarely given in drug-related cases. Traffickers may be imprisoned indefinitely.

Pakistan
Penalties include the death penalty. Even those convicted of possessing small amounts of "soft drugs" for recreational use can suffer long jail sentences, heavy fines and deportation.
Philippines
While the Philippines re-abolished the death penalty in 2006, penalties for drug offences are still severe. Offenders convicted of possessing even small quantities of "soft drugs" receive mandatory jail terms.

Singapore
Penalties include the death penalty. Corporal punishment, including blows from a rattan cane, may be imposed for drug offenses.

South Korea
Those convicted of possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs can suffer long jail sentences, large fines and deportation.
Sri Lanka
The crime of drug trafficking attracts severe penalties, including the death penalty.
Taiwan
The penalties for drug offenses in Taiwan are severe and include the death penalty.
Thailand
In Thailand, penalties for drug offenses are severe and include the death penalty. The possession of even small quantities of "soft drugs" for recreational purposes can result in lengthy jail sentences and deportation.

Vietnam
Under Vietnam's penal code, those caught in possession of even small quantities of heroin can receive the death sentence. Authorities have announced increased security and investigative measures to combat drug trafficking.

Sources: Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; U.S. Department of State.

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