Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said cannabis products used for medicinal purposes are allowed in Malaysia as long as they receive approval from local regulators
Khairy made the momentous announcement in a written parliamentary reply to Muar member of Parliament (MP) Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, who asked the Ministry of Health (MOH) to state Malaysia's position on hemp or medical marijuana's use as alternative medicine.
In the four-point written response detailing the rationale behind the approval, Khairy said the local laws — the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, Poisons Act 1952, and the Sale of Drugs Act 1952 — do not prohibit the use of the drug in Malaysia.
"A product containing cannabis to be used for human medical purposes can be imported and used in Malaysia if the products containing cannabis are made in compliance with legal requirements," the Health Minister said, before laying out four requirements that must be met.
He added that the approval of cannabis for medical use is allowed if there are parties who have sufficient scientific evidence to prove the safety and effectiveness of it
"As such, if there are parties who have sufficient scientific evidence to use cannabis (hemp) for any medicinal purpose by taking into account the aspects of quality, safety, and effectiveness, then the application to register cannabis products for medicinal purposes can be submitted to Drug Control Authority (DCA) to be evaluated and registered under the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulation 1984 in order to be marketed in Malaysia," Khairy said on Monday, 8 November.
The Health Minister's statement on the issue clarified the long-standing confusion over the status of medical marijuana in the government's view
In the past, distributors faced the death penalty for possessing, distributing, and selling medical marijuana even though patients have vouched for its effectiveness in controlling their medical conditions.
One notable case was Muhammad Lukman Mohamad, whose case received national attention.
Debates to legalise marijuana use for medical purposes were sparked when he was arrested and charged.
In September 2018, then premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Lukman's death sentence should be reviewed, while Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said she was looking into eventually decriminalising the use of cannabis oil for medical reasons.
Malaysiakini reported that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had in the past addressed their intention to change policies in regards to medical marijuana but it did not materialise into law.
The three issues related to marijuana and other drugs PH intended to work on were legalising the sale and possession of medical marijuana — which has now been addressed by Khairy — decriminalising small quantities of possessions of drugs so that addicts can be treated as patients and not criminals, and removal of the mandatory death penalty under the Dangerous Drugs Act.
Malaysia is known for having one of the harshest punishments worldwide against individuals possessing non-life-threatening drugs.
In response to Khairy's parliamentary reply, Syed Saddiq lauded the Health Minister for making the decision based on data and science
"I am really impressed with the answer given by Khairy and his team at MOH," the former youth and sports minister tweeted yesterday, 9 November.
"Usually I only get short written responses, which say 'being studied' or 'waiting for review', et cetera."
"This is hopeful. It seems that the team is doing an in-depth survey and taking action, not just answering because they have to answer."
You can find the full written parliamentary reply in Syed Saddiq's tweet below.