KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia –– Faced with some of the world's strictest anti-drug laws, some addicts in Malaysia are sniffing fresh cow dung to get high.
An official at the National Narcotics Agency said Thursday the problem was small but growing among addicts who cannot buy drugs.
Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz was quoted in The New Straits Times newspaper on Wednesday as saying she wanted the government to deal with addicts who sniff cow dung, glue and even polystyrene smoke. She did not elaborate.
"The cow dung emits gases like sulfur, and addicts sniff on these gases to get high," the official at the agency said on condition of anonymity.
Despite harsh anti-narcotics laws that call for death by hanging for drug traffickers, Malaysia does not have legislation to cover such acts as cow dung sniffing, the official said.
"The problem is not very serious yet, but we are worried as this method means addicts can get high for free," the official said.
Malaysia, a nation of 23 million people, had more than 200,000 drug addicts. About 40,000 of them are repeat users who had not kicked the habit despite undergoing government-funded rehabilitation programs.
Malaysia approved a law last month that allows for punishing hard-core addicts who repeatedly fail rehabilitation with five to 13 years in prison and six lashes from a rattan cane.