THE Vice President of one of Malaysia’s biggest ruling parties has confirmed that the government will come up with a bill to decriminalise medical marijuana to be debated in parliament.
Nurul Izzah Anwar, the parliamentarian for Permatang Pauh from the People’s Justice Party (PKR) said, however, that it may take some time before the bill could be presented in parliament.
“I’m working on a particular bill and I’ll bring it up because it’s quite crucial,” she said on Monday as quoted by The Star.
“So, it has to be done in tandem with the needs of the community.”
Nurul, who is the daughter of Malaysia’s Prime Minister-designate Anwar Ibrahim was alluding to the country’s drug user harm reduction programme which involved the use of methadone and naltrexone for heroin addicts in her constituency.
Earlier this month, Cabinet had agreed to place a moratorium on the death sentence handed to a 29-year-old father of one, Muhammad Lukman, who was convicted for trafficking marijuana oil he sold to cancer patients.
Typical of Asian countries, Malaysia has a reputation for its zero-tolerance policy on drug-trafficking. However, it recently but now the nation is entering the race to become the first in Asia to legalise marijuana for medical purposes.
Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Xavier Jayakumar told Bloomberg that Cabinet had talked “very briefly” on the matter in September, citing examples of marijuana legislation in western countries.
“It’s already been done in certain countries, and in certain states in America,” Xavier was quoted as saying.
“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.”
Malaysia’s announcement came after similar ones by Thailand and the Philippines in recent years.
Thailand’s researchers are persuading the military government to allow studies to be conducted on the drug for medical use by May next year. The medical marijuana sector is thriving as a multibillion-dollar industry in Canada, which has recently legalised the drug for recreational purposes.