KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) acknowledges the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in Malaysia, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in formal recognition of medical marijuana.
The existing legislations that regulate cannabis and its by-products in Malaysia, including the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, Poisons Act 1952 and the Sale of Drugs Act 1952, do not prohibit the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
A product containing cannabis that is used for human medicinal purposes can be imported and consumed in Malaysia if that product complies with the requirements of the law.
On November 8, Muar MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman asked MOH to state Malaysia’s position on the use of hemp or “medical marijuana” as one of the alternative medicines that can be offered to patients.
Syed Saddiq mentioned that cannabis or hemp has been used as alternative medicines in many foreign countries and is recognised by the international medical community.
According to MOH, cannabis-containing products should be registered with the Drug Control Authority (DCA) as prescribed by the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulation 1984 under the Sale of Drugs Act.
The importation of the product should be carried out by importers who have a license and import permit under the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulation, the Poisons Act as well as the Dangerous Drugs Act.
Similarly, the wholesale trading of products containing cannabis must be carried out by dealers who have a license under the same regulation and Acts.
The sale or retail supply of products containing cannabis for medical treatment of a patient should be performed by a registered medical practitioner under the Medical Act 1971.
Registered pharmacists who have a Type A license can also sell or supply cannabis products to certain individuals based on prescriptions issued by registered medical practitioners.
“Therefore, 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 DCA to be evaluated and registered under the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulation 1984 in order to be marketed in Malaysia,” Khairy mentioned in a written parliament reply to Syed Saddiq yesterday.
Cannabis is also regulated under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 and is listed under Schedule I of the Convention.
“Major controls imposed on listed materials in Schedule I are restricted only to medical and scientific purposes involving production, manufacture, export, import, distribution, trade, consumption and possession.”
It is to be noted that the Convention is not applicable to the cultivation of the cannabis plant exclusively for industrial or horticultural purposes.
Both Syed Saddiq and Khairy used the terms “hemp”, “medical marijuana”, and “cannabis” interchangeably. Hemp and marijuana are two different names for cannabis, a type of plant in the Cannabaceae family. “Hemp”, however, is legally defined in the United States as cannabis that contains 0.3 per cent or less THC, one of the cannabinoids or chemicals found in the cannabis plant that produces a “high”. In the US, “marijuana” legally refers to cannabis that has more than 0.3 per cent THC.
Malaysia’s Dangerous Drugs Act does not make the distinction between “hemp” and “marijuana”, using only the term “cannabis” to refer to “any part of any plant of the genus Cannabis”. Possession of 20g to less than 50g of cannabis is punishable with imprisonment of two to five years, and whipping. Possession of 200g or more of cannabis is presumed to be trafficking, which is punishable with a mandatory death sentence.
Medical marijuana, in general, can be used for treating chronic pain, nausea, muscle spasms, like those associated with multiple sclerosis, as well as sleep issues, besides symptoms from illnesses like AIDS, anorexia, arthritis, cancer, glaucoma, and migraine. The THC ingredient in cannabis leads to reduced pain and inflammation, besides increasing appetite.
Another chemical in cannabis, CBD — which does not produce a “high” like THC — also has beneficial health effects. Epidiolex, a CBD-based medication derived from cannabis, is approved by the US’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat seizure disorders.