Misuse of Drugs Act – Presumption of Knowledge of Nature of Drugs


Masoud Rahimi bin Mehrzad v PP & anor appeal [2017] 1 SLR 257


1. Introduction

We acted for the 2nd appellant in the Court of Appeal.


2. Background

In its grounds of decision, the Court of Appeal considered and clarified the law in relation to the presumption of knowledge of drugs under section 18 (2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Section 18(2) of the MDA provides:

Presumption of possession and knowledge of controlled drugs

18.—(1)  Any person who is proved to have had in his possession or custody or under his control —

(a) anything containing a controlled drug;

(b) the keys of anything containing a controlled drug;

(c) the keys of any place or premises or any part thereof in which a controlled drug is found; or

(d) a document of title relating to a controlled drug or any other document intended for the delivery of a controlled drug,

shall, until the contrary is proved, be presumed to have had that drug in his possession.

(2)  Any person who is proved or presumed to have had a controlled drug in his possession shall, until the contrary is proved, be presumed to have known the nature of that drug.

(3)  The presumptions provided for in this section shall not be rebutted by proof that the accused never had physical possession of the controlled drug.

(4)  Where one of 2 or more persons with the knowledge and consent of the rest has any controlled drug in his possession, it shall be deemed to be in the possession of each and all of them.


3. Conclusion

The Court held that the subjective state of knowledge of drugs in an accused person’s possession must be evaluated against the objective circumstances surrounding the offence and that the reasonable man’s perspective is a useful evidential tool in assessing the accused person’s state of knowledge.


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