Amendments To The First Schedule To The Misuse Of Drugs Act (MDA)

03 Sep 2020

Global NPS Situation

        The global NPS situation remains challenging. Based on a report released in January 2020 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, there were at least 950 New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)[1] reported from 2008 to January 2020[2]. The increase in the number, types and availability can be attributed to the ease in which new variants are produced simply by introducing slight modifications to the chemical structures of existing NPS.

2.     Many of these NPS have been reported in overseas journals to have no licit medical use. Their abuse has been linked to adverse physical and psychological reactions, including paranoia, seizures, hallucinations and even death.

3.     The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) regularly reviews its strategies to improve the detection and regulation of NPS. This includes the regular listing of NPS that have emerged in the market. A significant proportion of the NPS reported overseas are already currently controlled under the the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA).

4.     CNB first introduced the generic listing approach to deal with NPS in 2013. Since then, we have noted the increasing number of new variants entering the drug market, especially Synthetic Cannabis. These new variants are designed to evade control and have chemical structures which lie outside our current generic groups. To address these challenges, a comprehensive review was undertaken to study how our coverage against NPS can be strengthened. These changes are as follows: 

a) Three new synthetic cannabinoid generic groups at new paragraphs 20, 21 and 22 of the First Schedule will be introduced, and four existing synthetic cannabinoid generic groups (at paragraphs 8, 12, 14 and 15) and 86 individually listed Synthetic Cannabinoids (at paragraph 18) will be subsumed under these new generic groups.

Examples of NPS under each new synthetic cannabinoid generic groups are found under each description. The list of NPS examples are not exhaustive, and CNB will include new examples as and when the information is available.

b) The introduction of a new generic description to deal with Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) analogues is also included. The current description at item (78) paragraph 1 of the First Schedule to the MDA does not cover LSD analogues and these must be individually listed for CNB to take action. This is a gap which will be addressed by the new Lysergide generic group. With the change, seven LSD analogues which are individually listed at paragraph 18 of the First Schedule will be delisted and included as examples of LSD analogues under the new Lysergide generic group.

Changes to Deal with Derivatives   

5.     CNB has observed reports from other countries[3],[4] of authorities seizing substances which were found to be chemically-altered methamphetamine and N,α-Dimethyl-3,4-(methylenedioxy) phenethylamine (MDMA). While there has been no evidence thus far to suggest that these chemically-altered methamphetamine and MDMA have emerged in Singapore, the risk still remains. As a pre-emptive measure, the descriptions for ketamine, methamphetamine and MDMA will be amended to include the derivatives. The amendment will empower CNB to respond decisively to suppress activities involving these chemically-altered controlled drugs, should they become available in Singapore, and to restrict their circulation.

6.     Additionally, the trafficking, manufacturing, importation, exportation, possession or consumption of any substances which are captured in the amended descriptions will constitute an offence under the MDA. Persons found guilty of trafficking Class A controlled drugs will face a minimum of five years’ imprisonment and five strokes of the cane. They will also be liable for enhanced penalties if they re-offend or sell to young or vulnerable persons. CNB will also be empowered to subject NPS abusers to supervision, commit them to a drug rehabilitation centre for treatment and rehabilitation, or charge them in court.

Amendments to the First Schedule to the MDA

7.     In summary, with effect from 4 Sep 2020, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) will make the following changes to the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) (see Annex A for the full descriptions):

a) Listing three new synthetic cannabinoid[5] generic groups at paragraphs 20, 21 and 22;

b) Delisting four existing synthetic cannabinoid generic groups at paragraphs 8, 12, 14 and 15;

c) Delisting 93[6] existing individually listed new psychoactive substances (NPS) at paragraph 18;

d) Amending item (46) at paragraph 1 to include derivatives of N,α-Dimethyl-3,4-(methylenedioxy)phenethylamine (MDMA);

e) Amending item (71) at paragraph 1 to include derivatives of ketamine;

f) Amending item (78) at paragraph 1 to expand the generic description to deal with Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) analogues; and

g) Amending item (83) at paragraph 1 to include derivatives of methamphetamine.

8.     With the above revisions, the MDA will contain 12 generic groups[7] and 67 individually named NPS (at paragraph 18). These amendments enhance CNB’s existing generic listing approach to control the proliferation of NPS, as well as enable CNB to take decisive action against the abuse and trafficking of a wider range of new, synthesised substances.

Click here to go to Annex A.


[1] New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) refer to substances that produce the same (or similar) effects as controlled drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, “ecstasy”, methamphetamine or heroin.

[2] United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), January 2020, Current NPS Threats (Volume II).

[3] Mayer, A., Copp, B., Bogun, B., & Miskelly, G. (2020). Identification and characterization of chemically masked derivatives of pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, methamphetamine, and MDMA. Drug testing and analysis, 12(4), 524–537.

[4] C. S. Johnson & B. Bogun (2019) Chemical camouflage: illicit drug concealment using di-tert-butyldicarbonate, Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, 51:sup1, S217-S219, DOI: 10.1080/00450618.2019.1569135

[5] Synthetic cannabinoids are substances which have structural features that allow binding to one of the known cannabinoid receptors, and produce effects similar to those of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component in cannabis.

[6] This is made up of 86 synthetic cannabinoids and seven LSD analogues.

[7] The 12 generic groups consist of one LSA generic group, one fentanyl generic group, seven synthetic cannabinoid generic groups, two synthetic cathinone generic groups and one tryptamine generic group.