Changes in the scope of control of Traditional Medicine & Cannabis for Malaysia

Cannabis Policy Expert, Amy Case King reviews changes in the scope of control of Traditional Medicine & Cannabis by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Malaysia during MHIRA members’ online meeting sessions.


In 2020, WHO released a statement regarding the revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which included updates related to traditional medicine. The ICD-11 now includes a new chapter on traditional medicine, recognizing the important role it plays in healthcare and promoting its integration with conventional medicine. This update reflects a global trend toward the recognition and regulation of traditional medicine practices.

Regarding cannabis, WHO has recommended that cannabis and its derivatives be rescheduled under international drug control treaties to reflect their potential medical applications and reduce the harmful effects associated with non-medical use. However, WHO has previously provided guidelines and recommendations related to traditional medicine and cannabis use. In May 2021, WHO released the “WHO Global Report on Traditional and complementary medicine 2019-2023,” which highlights the importance of integrating traditional and complementary medicine into national health systems. The report also discusses the need for further research and regulation to ensure the safety, efficacy, and quality of traditional medicine.

WHO has previously provided guidance on the medical use of cannabis and its derivatives. In 2018, WHO recommended that cannabis and its key components, such as cannabidiol (CBD), should be removed from international drug control treaties. The organization also encouraged further research into the medical use of cannabis.

In Malaysia, the use of traditional medicine is regulated by the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Act 2013, which sets out guidelines for the registration and practice of traditional medicine practitioners. As for cannabis, Malaysia has some of the strictest drug laws in the world, with possession and trafficking of cannabis carrying severe penalties. The use of cannabis for medical purposes is not currently legal in Malaysia.