Malaysia to consider legalising medical cannabis

Malaysia is contemplating legalising cannabis for medical use as it seeks to “learn from Thailand”.

Following Thailand’s landmark decision to legalise cannabis, the country’s public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Monday that Malaysia is now considering the legalisation of medical cannabis. Up until recently, possession of over 200g of the drug in Malaysia can lead to the death penalty.

Two weeks before Charnvirakul’s comments, three Thai tourists were detained, fined and imprisoned for three days after testing positive for cannabis during a trip to Malaysia.

According to the Thai newspaper The National, Anutin made the statement after a meeting at the Public Health Ministry with Jojie Samuel, Malaysia’s ambassador to Thailand.

The discussion is thought to be in preparation for an upcoming meeting between Charnvirakul and Malaysia’s health minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting. The two health ministers are expected to discuss Thailand’s recent efforts to legalise the plant, which started in 2018 with the legalisation of medical cannabis, followed by recreational cannabis earlier this year.

According to Charnvirakul’s statement, the two countries have already begun sharing knowledge on cannabis as Malaysia reviews its laws in relation to the plant.

“If Malaysia announces cannabis legalisation for medical use, it will be the second Asian country to remove cannabis from the narcotics list,” he said.

Speaking to Reuters, a Malaysian health ministry official said “We are developing our own framework for the usage of cannabis for medical purposes, and want to learn from Thailand.”

Malaysia’s stance on medical cannabis is currently unclear. Under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, Poisons Act 1952 and the Sale of Drugs Act 1952, cannabis use, possession and supply have come with heady penalties but in December 2021, Khairy Jamaluddin told Parliament that current legislations do not prohibit the use of cannabis as a medicinal product.

“There is no need to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 as the existing Act does not prohibit the use of products containing cannabis for the purpose of medication and is subject to compliance with the requirements set out under other regulations, namely the Poisons Act 1952 and the Sale of Drugs Act 1952,” Khairy said in a written response to a fellow MP on December 2.

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