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Man Who Sold Cannabis Oil To Help Patients Suffering From Cancer Escapes Death Penalty

He will be freed after receiving his corporal punishment.

Cover image via johnmburgess/Flickr via VICE & change.org

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The Federal Court has freed Muhammad Lukman Mohamad from the death penalty over two counts of drug trafficking

The judgement came yesterday, 17 January, in the apex court in Putrajaya, which was presided by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat and joined by Federal Court judges Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal.

The court allowed his appeal on two counts of trafficking. Hence, the offences have been substituted with possession under Section 9 of the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA), reported Bernama.

The court still found the 31-year-old engineer guilty of possessing various kinds of cannabis.

According to Free Malaysia Today, Lukman was sentenced to five years' jail on each count of possession — the maximum incarceration penalty under the provision — but the sentences are allowed to run concurrently.

In other words, he will only serve five years in total.

Lukman's lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said his client would have been freed from prison by now if it was not for the pending corporal punishment

"If not for the whipping, he should be freed immediately as the seven-year jail term has been completed, with a one-third remission," Hisyam told Free Malaysia Today after the proceedings on Wednesday.

Initially, Lukman was charged with three counts of drug trafficking, which is punishable by death.

In August 2018, the Shah Alam High Court found him guilty on three charges of trafficking 3,010ml of delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis extract), 1,422g of delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, and 279.81g of cannabis.

Following which, last year, the Court of Appeal reduced one of the three charges to possession, while maintaining two charges for trafficking.

He was sentenced to seven years' jail and 10 strokes of the cane for possession and to death for trafficking.

Lukman and his defence team only appealed to the Federal Court against the conviction for trafficking.

The judgement yesterday overruled the Court of Appeal's conviction for trafficking. Therefore, he has escaped the gallows.

Image via change.org

Under DDA, anyone found with 200g of cannabis runs the risk of drug trafficking in Malaysia

Before the ruling yesterday, Hisyam defended his client by saying the prosecution could not prove the weight and volume of the drugs as stated in the charge sheet.

According to him, the chemist did not carry out a quantitative analysis of the drugs, reported Bernama.

Deputy public prosecutor Samihah Razali submitted that the chemist did not carry out the quantitative analysis as he contended it was unnecessary to do so.

Hisyam also argued that the admission of the exhibits was wrong in law because they were tendered in absence of the trial judge, adding that his client's offences are not caught within the scope of the DDA as he was merely selling it as medicinal oil.

Photo for illustration purposes only.

Image via BBC

In past proceedings, the court heard that Lukman used cannabis oil to treat patients who were suffering from ailments that were difficult to treat with legal medicines, such as cancer.

When he was first sentenced to death, Lukman's case went on to catch global attention for Malaysia's 'ultra-tough' law against cannabis possession.

It even made then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir and a handful of lawmakers speak out against Lukman's sentence, before finally mobilising the then Cabinet to repeal mandatory capital punishment in the country.

In 2018, a petition was launched to free Lukman from the death sentence:

The use of cannabis is not entirely illegal in Malaysia: