Press Release: NGO Calls for End of Ganja Stigmatisation

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Hemp Industry Research Association intends to initiate educational awareness for Malaysians to understand and differentiate the uses for medicinal purposes and the industrial uses of the controversial plant.

According to MHIRA, this will help the government to end the ganja taboo and start permitting industrial hemp products where research on cannabis for medical use should begin with cultivation research and clinical trials on humans.

The use of organic cannabinoids in Malaysia should be considered for safer access because it can be obtained through the internet and the black market. But the most important is to differentiate between non-drugs and controlled substances (Cannabis resin), extracted from the flower found on the plant. Thus education and accurate information are crucial to introducing either industrial hemp or medicinal cannabis which both should be categorized by different regulations according to their regulations and sector. 

“We proposed all MPs in the Parliamentarians’ caucus to submit a first bill related to cannabis hemp to the cabinet committee. Since our establishment in 2016-2017, MHIRA’s first move was to present a proposal to Tun Dr. Mahathir. During the PH administration in 2018, this is among the discussions to develop the Hemp industry in Malaysia.

MHIRA agrees that the time is now to implement more responsible and safer access related to cannabis plants as well as those who consume it no longer need to be sent to prison as long as it is for medical purposes.

The NGO also called on the Prime Minister to establish an independent regulatory authority for Hemp, and the cannabis policy reform will take place through an understanding with relevant agencies involved in regulating and to expedite the change for the legal policy update.

“There are many more Capt. Amiruddin (Dr. Ganja) and artists Yasin out there who are being punished and unable to seek the right treatment,” he said.

He added that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has also excluded cannabis from the list of narcotics and the laws to ban and prohibit the use of cannabis for adult use is an outdated approach, at times when the current human endocannabinoid requires optimal immunisation.

The government should not rush to enact the change of the 1952 Dangerous Drugs Act related to cannabis, at this juncture. Authorities should draft a new policy and regulation for industrial hemp consumer products (non-drug) which already available in the market, according to MHIRA  

During the act change process, Medical Marijuana/Cannabis will undergo a 2-year pilot study involving 100,000 patients (7-9 types of chronic diseases) for a specified period with local universities that have integrated health research facilities.

Even Hemp and cannabis are both in the same Cannabis family and according to the terms practiced by international law, hemp is defined as a plant of the C.Sativa L species that contains 0.3 percent or less of its THC compounds. While cannabis marijuana species contain THC compounds of more than 0.3 percent. Meanwhile, CBD is largely derived from the Hemp plant with a high percentage without psychoactive effects.

Since 2017, Cannabidiol, also known as CBD which is mainly found in the hemp plant has not only contained a plethora of therapeutic properties for addressing a number of ailments, but the non-psychoactive cannabinoid has the potential to preserve our planet.

The introduction to the hemp industry as a pilot program can provide various potentials for crops with high market demand as well as enhance new industries in accordance with existing acts. Industrial hemp, a crop grown historically for fiber, seeds, oil, and now cannabidiol oil (CBD), is the Cannabis sativa L. species that contain a very low concentration of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Clearly distinguishing industrial hemp from marijuana was a critical legal step in allowing hemp production to be introduced in Malaysia. The level of production will grow rapidly with the entrance of new local producers to subsidize a more sustainable industry.

NGOs joined by local public universities researchers also called for an end to the stigma and prejudice against cannabis users. “lashing out at the misinformation and scaremongering information around the social media”.

“The hypothesis that cannabis is a gateway drug for heavier substances has been refuted through many scientific studies. Any misinformation, together with a misunderstanding of the effects of cannabis use, and harm reduction measures led to a wrong judgment against consumers. ”According to Johan, MHIRA supports the draft of the new bill for the hemp industry and embraces it as an industry think tank. This will also allow the country to focus on Hemp and Medical Cannabis in a diverse market with a conducive economic environment.  

MHIRA welcomes the relevant ministries and agencies to organize consultation on this matter as soon as possible. “We fully support this and at the same time we need to be more concerned about the accuracy of medical terms and the implementation plan which relates to cannabis containing hundreds of types of cannabinoids,” Johan said.

In October last year, YB Syed Saddiq started a multi-party parliamentary caucus to study and discuss the matter.

Meanwhile, in November 2021, Minister of Health, YB Khairy Jamaluddin announced that products containing cannabis used for medical purposes could be imported and used in Malaysia if the products complied with existing laws.