By Duncan Mlanjira
Malaysia government has legalised the growing of Marijuana (cannabis) only if permission is first obtained from the health ministry and it is for medicinal and research purposes.
A report quotes Malaysian National Anti-Drugs Agency director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Abdullah as saying there was room in the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 for the cultivation of cannabis for said purposes, with the condition that prior permission is obtained.
He added that its cultivation should be strictly controlled so it is not misused for other purposes.
“Marijuana can be cultivated for medicinal purposes in Malaysia, all you need is to obtain permission from the Minister of Health,”Zulkifli Abdullah os quoted as saying.
Speaking to Harian Metro, he said there is a provision in the Malaysian law that allowed for the cultivation of the cannabis plant in the country provided that it met some special conditions or permissions.
“Recently, I read in the press about (the success) of a group of Malaysians (abroad) in producing cannabis oil, so I feel it’s a wasted opportunity if we don’t look into the feasibility of doing the same in Malaysia.
“If we look at the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, the cannabis plant can be cultivated for medical purposes … therefore it is important to get the approval from the Health Minister first, before it can be produced for medical purposes,” he said.
He said this when speaking to the media after the National Anti-Drug Agency appreciation ceremony in Pahang.
The Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 expressively restricts the possession, sale, use, importation and exportation of opium, cocaine and marijuana substances. However, there is a provision in the act that allows for the use of these substances for medicinal purposes with permission.
The success story of three Malaysians who succeeded in producing CBD (Cannabidiol) Oil from Cannabis Sativa in the United Kingdom received local media attention in June, last year.
Abdul Halim Pauzi and Nurul Ain Sahbudin, together with their friend, Mohd Roslan Abdullah, who has been living in the UK for 15 years founded CBD Oils Malaysia, a company that produces cannabis oils for medicinal purposes. The trio had also acquired licenses to market their marijuana-based product in over 50 other countries in the European Union.
Zulkifli said that if the cannabis plant is proven to be beneficial for medicinal use then the relevant parties should look into developing the industry locally so long as it is in accordance with the provisions of the Malaysian law.
“We can’t have the plant cultivated all over the place because the substance is considered a drug. That’s why we need regulation. In fact, a number of countries have already started an industry around the marijuana plant. Perhaps one day, Malaysia can be an exporter of the substance provided that we follow the law.
“That’s why it is important for the ministry of health to verify marijuana can be used for medicinal purposes because they have the authority to do so,” he said.
Currently, medical marijuana is legal in some form in over 30 countries including: Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, and Thailand with European countries being among the most progressive when it comes to the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Medicinal marijuana has been found to be effective in treating several medical problems including Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, severe epilepsy, schizophrenia and posttraumatic stress disorder.
There are some schools of thought in Malawi who contemplate on legalizing the growing of the hemp for industrial use.
Other reports coming from the US say scientists have discovered that cannabis contains cannabinoids, also called phytocannabinoids, which cause drug-like effects in the body, including the central nervous system and the immune system.
On its website, the National Cancer Institute, which is part of the US Department of Health, says the main psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis is delta-9-THC, while another active cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), might alleviate pain and lower inflammation without causing the high of delta-9-THC.
The website also adds that no ongoing studies of cannabis as a treatment for cancer in people have been found in the CAM on PubMed database maintained by the National Institutes of Health. Yet, small studies have been done, but their results have not been reported or suggest a need for larger studies.
“Cannabis and cannabinoids have been studied as ways to manage side effects of cancer and cancer therapies, including pain, nausea, appetite loss, as well as pain, and anxiety.”
The National Cancer Institute suggests that laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.
“They may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, inhibiting cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow.
“Yet, researchers added that at the time, there is a lack of evidence that recommends patients to inhale or ingest cannabis as a treatment for cancer-related symptoms or side effects of cancer therapy.
“Cannabis has been commonly used by patients diseased with some type of cancer as a way to alleviate pain in numerous US states where it is legal for medicinal application.
“However, The Cancer Research Charity cautiously explains that there isn’t enough reliable evidence to prove that cannabinoids, whether natural or synthetic, can effectively treat cancer in patients, although research is ongoing around the world.
“Therefore, even though cannabis and its derivatives may help to alleviate disease and therapy-related symptoms, there is still no clinical evidence of its anti-cancer efficacy.
“Medical marijuana can help with certain conditions, and research is ongoing into what kind of positive effects it can have on various diseases, including cancer.
“It has been recognized as one way of dealing with nausea caused by chemotherapy.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is also moving ahead with its long-delayed expansion of its research program on the illegal hemp.
A report by Reuters News Agency last month said this could be a sign that the President Donald Trump administration’s hostility to the drug may be waning as a growing number of states have legalized its use.
The report says the DEA shall roll out new guidelines that would allow more growers to produce marijuana for scientific and medical research.
In Malawi, a Parliamentary legislator once courted controversy when he suggested in the august House if the government could consider legalising the growing of marijuana to benefit from its export revenue to countries interested to use it for industrial use.
But his suggestion was met with resistance and derision from fellow Parliamentarians and the public at large as he was misunderstood until in recent years when the call to legalize it resurfaced on a different level through interested investors.