The debate on the criminalisation of marijuana is a topic that has been long discussed in Malaysia. Recently, the issue came into the spotlight yet again when a 29-year-old male doctor was sentenced the death penalty for administering marijuana to his patients for their ailments. Despite his explanation that the use of the drug was solely for medicinal use, but that still wasn’t enough to get him out of the sentence.
When this case caught the attention of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, he said the verdict needed reviewing and subsequently, laws related to medical marijuana. The cabinet then decided to remove the capital punishment for the case, however, Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Xavier Jayakumar said there’s still the hurdle of gaining support to legalise medical marijuana.
Fast forward a few weeks, now Malaysia is looking to becoming the first country in Asia to legalise medical marijuana, competing Thailand for this title. According to a report by Bloomberg, Xavier said the cabinet briefly discussed medical marijuana last week and informal talks have begun to amend necessary laws.
“It will take a bit of encouragement and convincing as far as this topic is concerned,” said the report. “My own personal view is that if it’s got medicinal value, then it can be a controlled item that can be used by Ministry of Health for prescription purposes.”
However, on the flip side, the Health Ministry said it had insufficient data to support the use of cannabis oil to treat patients, and that the oil can only be used for research purposes and no doctors in Malaysia have used it as medicine as it is classified as a dangerous drug.
“It’s already been done in certain countries,” Xavier told Bloomberg. “If it’s going to be used for medicinal purposes, it can be used. Not for social purposes, for medicinal purposes – yes, it should be allowed to be used.”