Will a drug user who voluntarily surrenders to be rehabilitated be sued for violation of the dangerous drugs law?
A drug user under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165 otherwise known as “The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002” refers to any act of injecting, intravenously or intramuscularly, or consuming, either by chewing, smoking, sniffing, eating, swallowing, drinking or otherwise introducing into the physiological system of the body, any of the dangerous drugs (Section 3 [kk], R.A. No. 9165). A person apprehended or arrested, who is found to be positive for use of any dangerous drug, after a confirmatory test, shall be imposed a penalty of a minimum of six (6) months rehabilitation in a government center for the first offense. If apprehended using any dangerous drug for the second time, he/she shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment ranging from six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years and a fine ranging from P50,000 to P200,000 (Section 15, R.A. No. 9165).
A drug dependent or any person who violates Section 15 of R.A. No. 9165 on Use of Dangerous Drugs may by himself/ herself or through his/her parent, spouse, guardian, relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity, or affinity, apply to the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) or its duly authorized representative, for treatment and rehabilitation of drug dependency. If the examination by a DOH-accredited physician results in the issuance of a certification that the applicant is a drug dependent, he/she shall be ordered by the Court to undergo treatment and rehabilitation in a Center designated by the DDB for a period of not less than six (6) months. The confinement in a Center for treatment and rehabilitation shall not exceed one (1) year, after which time the Court, as well as the Board, shall be apprised by the head of the treatment and rehabilitation center of the status of the said drug dependent and determine whether further confinement will be for the welfare of the drug dependent and his/her family or the community.
It is stated under R.A. No. 9165 that a drug dependent under the voluntary submission program who is finally discharged from confinement, shall be exempt from the criminal liability under Section 15 of the said act. In order for the exemption to be applied, the dependent should follow the applicable rules and regulations of the Center and the DDB including the 18-month follow-up program following temporary discharge from confinement; that he has not been charged or convicted of any offense punishable under R.A. No. 9165, the Revised Penal Code or any special law; that he has no record of escape from the Center and if he had escaped, he has surrendered himself within one (1) week from the date of the said escape; and that he poses no serious danger to himself, to his family, or to the community by the exemption from criminal liability. If the drug dependent is not qualified for the foregoing exemption, he may be charged under the said provision but he shall be placed on probation and undergo community service in lieu of imprisonment and/or fine in the discretion of the court, without prejudice of the pending cases filed in court.
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