Deputy Minister: Use of cannabis for medical purposes is still illegal pending product approval

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 – Existing users and physicians prescribing medical cannabis can still be sued under current law, despite awaiting approval of the product through official channels.

During a Dewan Rakyat session on July 28, Deputy Minister of Health Dr. Noor Azmi Ghazali told MP Muar Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman that the Ministry of Health (MOH) is obliged to follow the letter of the law when it comes to currently illegal marijuana. under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.

Possession of narcotics prohibited by the Dangerous Drugs Act, even in very small amounts, is punishable by death if deemed drug trafficking.

Dr Noor Azmi added that the country’s rigid attitude also stems from Malaysia’s ratification of the Single Convention on Narcotic and Drugs of 1961. This convention limits the possession, use, trade, distribution, the import, export, manufacture and production of drugs exclusively to medical and medical care. scientific purposes.

Syed Saddiq was asking about the government’s latest plans to approve the use of medical cannabis in Malaysia.

He pointed out that as the MOH’s proposed framework for registration of prescription drugs containing cannabidiol (CBD) later this year, with registration targeted next year, physicians who prescribe medical cannabis to patients and the patients themselves would still be subject to criminal prosecution.

Muda chairman said many parents give medical cannabis to children for mental health issues, epilepsy and ADHD, as he asks for ‘sympathy and compassion’ for people who use marijuana for children medical purposes, pending formal authorization of these products in Malaysia.

“I truly understand your Honour’s anxiety and concern, and concern which is perhaps shared by many others here. However, we are bound by laws that have been around for a long time and we need to change them” , said Dr. Noor Azmi, according to a Hansard of the proceedings.

“At this time we have, as I said before, we have moved forward and we will move as fast as we can. I will bring the matter your honorable has raised to the main committee later.”

The Deputy Minister of Health was referring to the Parents’ Committee of the Ministry of Health on the Industrial Development of Cannabis and Ketum for Medical Purposes, chaired by Minister of Health Khairy Jamaluddin and composed of members of the Ministry of Health. Interior, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry, and the Malaysian Department of Islamic Development (Jakim).

“Cabinet will decide on the need to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 in relation to the control of cannabis and hemp, including the creation of different definitions for cannabis and hemp, depending on the findings of the committee. “

Hemp plants and marijuana plants are both the same species. The United States legally defines hemp as a cannabis plant containing 0.3% or less of THC, the psychoactive compound, while marijuana is defined as a cannabis plant containing more than 0.3% THC. CBD, another compound that is not psychoactive, can be derived from both hemp and marijuana plants.

The Malaysian Dangerous Drugs Act, however, does not distinguish between hemp and other cannabis plants.

Dr Noor Azmi added that parties wishing to market products containing cannabis extracts in Malaysia can submit marketing authorization applications to drug control authorities.

“The Ministry of Health does not reject studies on the effectiveness of medical cannabis. In fact, if there are medical cannabis related products that have been approved for use in other countries, the company can register the product in Malaysia,” said Dr. Noor Azmi.

“We have seen many countries – about 40 countries that have endorsed [cannabis]. Thailand approved because they have their own data, for example. We are therefore late and the Ministry of Health is ready to address these new issues. »

The Deputy Minister added that the Ministry of Health welcomes applications for clinical trials of products containing cannabis extract for medical purposes in Malaysia, as no such studies have yet been conducted here. .

Furthermore, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in a written response to Jempol MP Mohd Salim Sharif on July 25 that parties wishing to market medicinal products containing cannabis or ketum extract (mitragynine) for can submit an application to drug control authorities – provided they have sufficient scientific evidence on the medical use of the product.

“The Department of Health wishes to point out that the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 and two other Acts – the Poisons Act 1952 and the Sale of Drugs Act 1952 – which control the use of extracts of cannabis or ketum (mitragynine) for medical purposes do not prohibit the import, export, sale, supply or manufacture of products containing cannabis or ketum (mitragynine) extracts for medical purposes so long as such activities are in accordance with the law”.

Khairy is currently in Bangkok, Thailand, to get a briefing from his counterpart on the country’s cannabis policies. He has to visit Siam Cannabis Land, a cannabis farm.