Khairy: MOH To Introduce Framework To Enable Registration Of Medical Marijuana

However, even if legalised, Malaysia will not be making cannabidiol (CBD) products available for self-medicating purposes or over-the-counter, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said, adding that they can only be prescribed by a healthcare professional.

Cover image via HelloSehat & Sadho/SAYS

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Today, 14 July, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin made an announcement that could soon see medical marijuana being legalised

Khairy, who was speaking at the launch of The Centre's drug perception study titled, 'How Do Malaysians Really Feel About Drugs?', said that the Ministry of Health (MOH) will announce a framework this year to enable the registration of certain cannabidiol (CBD) products to be made available by prescription.

According to the Health Minister, MOH is committed to evidence and science-based decision-making and if the science about CBD products points in a particular direction, then MOH cannot avoid it.

"The science to me ... I'm convinced. Of course, I'm working internally to make sure everyone in the ministry is behind this. Because I can't be an outlier in this. I've to get institutional backing," he said.

However, even if legalised, Malaysia will not be making CBD products available for self-medicating purposes or over-the-counter, Khairy said, adding that they can only be prescribed by a healthcare professional

"For now, these CBD (products) will only be given under prescription, not for self-use or self-medication and especially not for the recreational use of cannabis. It will be limited to cannabidiol products only," he said, adding that Malaysia will not rush and take a step-wise and calibrated approach towards it.

Additionally, the framework will not include the cultivation of cannabis for now.

"Many have sent in proposals to open up cannabis fields, [but] we are not there yet. We have to first register a few products and look at the acceptance of doctors and patients, and after that, if the acceptance level is high, safe, and effective, then we can think about cultivation," Khairy said.

Meanwhile, the CBD products, before registration, must first undergo human trials and clinical tests to be conducted by local universities

Khairy shared that he has recently met with several researchers from the University of Malaya (UM) to see clinical trials conducted for the use of CBD for diseases for certain medical situations.

"Once there is evidence in terms of clinical trials for certain diseases, then there will be an increase in the use of CBD that can be used and given by medical officers. So various approaches are used, product registration, research on the product to be registered, we will be open to all to send proposals later and clinical trials by researchers in Malaysia on the use of CBD," the Health Minister added.

Image via Sadho/SAYS

The Health Minister, while addressing the study, also talked about the prevalence of societal stigma against former drug users and the need to move away from punitive measures to rehabilitative strategies

"The study found that while many Malaysians seem empathetic about the misuse related to drug addiction, they are less receptive to the idea of having former drug offenders living among them," he said.

"I think that's why we need to move a little bit away from punitive measures β€” punitive measures should still be there, but we need to increase the rehabilitative strategies in dealing with drug offences. The societal stigma also needs to be addressed because if we don't address this, research has shown that as long as the stigma remains, then it is more likely that drug offenders cannot be reintegrated directly into society."

Last year, Khairy said that cannabis products used for medicinal purposes are allowed as long as they receive approval from local regulators:

Meanwhile, people in Thailand can grow their own cannabis for personal use after the country's Narcotics Control Board approved dropping the plant from the Ministry of Health's list of controlled drugs:

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