Malaysian MPs launch bipartisan effort to review regulations on medical cannabis, ketum plant
The bipartisan group said that other countries have already moved far ahead in the implementation of such policies and Malaysia should also look into the issue.
KUALA LUMPUR: A group of nine Malaysian Members of Parliament (MPs) have agreed to form a special committee to study the medical uses of cannabis and the local ketum plant.
The bipartisan caucus is headed by former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman. Members include MPs from both sides of the political divide.
In a Facebook post on Thursday (Oct 14), Mr Syed Saddiq said that the caucus would be meeting with health experts, researchers, industry stakeholders, NGOs as well as related ministries to gather views on policy formulation over the matter.
“Other countries have already moved far ahead in the implementation of policies related to medical cannabis and ketum. Malaysia must also begin to respond to this. We must look into it now,” said the Muar MP.
He said that the caucus comprises lawmakers from various parties, such as Pengerang MP and the prime minister’s special adviser Azalina Othman Said, who is with the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).
Other MPs include those from Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), Democratic Action Party (DAP), Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Warisan, Amanah, Sarawak Parties Alliance (GPS) and Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA).
In a separate statement, the caucus said that the bipartisan effort will look into formulating policies and strategies to study the regulation of the use of ketum and medical cannabis to reduce harm.
“As part of the initial framework, the caucus will meet with health experts, researchers, industry players, non-governmental organisations as well as ministries involved to gather their views on policy formulation,” the group was quoted as saying by the Star.
“The caucus will then present to the government a draft proposal that will ensure that patients who require marijuana and ketum for medical treatment can be taken care of under the country’s healthcare system,” the statement added.
The group said their work is in line with efforts to expand the medical marijuana and ketum industries in Malaysia, which they said can benefit the country's healthcare industry as well as locals.
Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin said in parliament last week that the government was looking into legalising the use of medical marijuana.
Currently, cannabis is listed as a controlled drug under the Dangerous Drugs Act.
Ketum or Kratom as it is known elsewhere in the region is regulated under the Poisons Act.
According to a Malaysian Ministry of Health’s online portal there are traditional uses of the ketum leaves to cure certain ailments, but it also warns of "adverse effects" including addiction, insomnia and constipation.
Last week, Kuala Kedah MP Azman Ismail reportedly said in parliament that the government should legalise the farming and trade of ketum.
“The best ketum in the world grows in the northern region of the peninsula: Kedah, Perlis and Kelantan. But we have not allowed what could be beneficial to us to be planted widely and sold,” he was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today. Mr Azman is among the members of the newly formed caucus.
“Who gets the revenue? Our ketum is smuggled to Thailand, which they then market as Thai kratom. Now, Thailand dominates the ketum market in the US and Europe,” he said, adding that ketum has been removed from Thailand’s list of dangerous drugs.