Law amended to reduce penalty for growing marijuana for own use

Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed the third reading of a bill today, approving amendments to the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act to reduce sentences for growing small amounts of cannabis for self use.

Under the current law, the manufacture of drugs, including cultivating marijuana, carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison. However, recent judgements have interpreted this as being not commensurate with the principle of proportionality when it comes to small amounts grown by an individual for personal use.

As an example, a resident of Taichung, named Qian, was caught growing marijuana in his home in 2019. Qian was in possession of one plant and seven marijuana seeds. Qian argued to the court that he had grown marijuana to help him sleep because he suffered from a spinal injury. The judge accepted Qian’s statement and commuted his sentence to one year and 10 months in prison suspended for five years with 200 hours of voluntary labor.

On March 20, 2020, the Judicial Yuan deemed that the minimum sentence of more than 5 years in prison in such cases was inconsistent with the principle of proportional guilt, giving lawmakers one year to make amendments to the law.

The Ministry of Justice proposed to amend the law for this purpose, and differentiate punishment for people who grow small amounts for their own use. The MOJ proposed that for those who cultivate and use marijuana for themselves, the punishment be adjusted to a fixed-term imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than seven years , and a fine of not more than NT$1 million.

With the passing of the third reading in the Legislative Yuan today, the law has now been officially amended.

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