The government policy is to rehabilitate and hand offenders back to society instead of punishment in the long-term, said justice minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.
He was addressing a meeting at his ministry on 11 January to discuss amendments to laws pertaining to leniency for prisoners.
Rehabilitation will also be an answer to congestion at prisons, Rajapakshe noted.
The minister instructed the prisons chief to formulate guidelines for leniency for minor drug offenders and submit same for cabinet approval.
He stressed that court rulings in the future should focus more on rehabilitation, not punishment.
State minister Anuradha Jayaratne, ministry secretary M.N. Ranasinghe, prisons chief Thushara Upuldeniya and other officials attended, according to a statement issued by the ministry.