Legal aspects about drugs
The legal framework of drugs in Mauritius is governed by the Dangerous Drugs Act 2000, making it a criminal offence to produce, cultivate, sell, traffick, possess and consume drugs that are listed in the list of Dangerous Drugs by this Act into different schedules(schedule I to IV).
Possession of paraphernalia (any object used for the consumption of drugs) is also criminalized under section 34 (c) of that Act:
The term Paraphernalia is defined in the Dangerous Drugs Act as any pipe, syringe, utensil, apparatus or other article for use in connection with smoking, inhaling sniffing, consuming or the administration of any dangerous drug.)
This section of the law thus renders possession of rolling papers (Type Rizzla ®, OCB ®, etc.), bongs, needles, syringes, cap / spoon used to prepare the product, etc to be criminal.
However, in relation to the needle exchange program, Section 16 of HIV/Aids Act 2006 protects users who are registered users of the needle exchange program which is recognized by the State. Users are not subject to this law for possession of syringes or needles.
Unfortunately the reality is quite different, because some of our service users got arrested for possession of syringes. With the help of lawyers, cases have been defended in court.
It is also worth noting that the Dangerous Drugs Act does make a clear difference between a user and a trafficker as it does not define any amounts which would qualify someone as a user or a trafficker according to the amount of drugs in his/her possession. The circumstances of the arrest will usually determine how it will be legally dealt with.
In practice, anyone can be arrested for possession of a cannabis “pouliah” (a pouliah is a small amount of cannabis of about 0.25 gram). In addition, anyone who is arrested for possession of a syringe, and whose syringe will be sent to the FSL (Forensic Science Laboratory) for analysis, can also be charged with a case of possession (or consumption) of drugs even if only traces of heroin is found by the FSL in the syringe.
CUT believes that the drug policy of Mauritius is too repressive and counter-productive. This view is outlined in the Drugs Policy link.