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FMT: Case of pro-medical marijuana death row man may have far-reaching consequences

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Ho Kit Yen - December 28, 2018 11:11 AM

PETALING JAYA: A man who heads a group promoting marijuana for medical purposes is seeking answers from the government on his drug trafficking case appeal – a case that could have long-term consequences on the use of marijuana in the country.

Mohd Zaireen Zainal, who heads Gerakan Edukasi Ganja Malaysia, is currently on death row in Kluang prison, pending appeal. The Muar High Court sentenced him to death for trafficking in1.16kg of cannabis, or weed, in 2014. The sentence was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

He was also sentenced to four years in prison for possessing 58.5ml of Tetrahydrocannabinol, a substance found in marijuana.

Zaireen has urged the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to review the charge under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act on grounds that there were no elements of “trafficking” as defined under the law.

“Witnesses from the prosecution and defence have concluded in their testimonies that the accused was using cannabis oil to treat people with chronic illnesses and not for recreational purposes.

“Besides that, the accused has never sold cannabis for the purposes of making money,” he said in the letter to the AGC.

Lawyer Kitson Foong said Zaireen’s case would be a test case on the use of cannabis oil for medical purposes in Malaysia. Marijuana is also known as cannabis and ganja.

“It will reveal to everyone that cannabis oil is used for people with certain diseases,” he said, adding that Zaireen had never demanded money from the people he had helped.

Foong also said the AGC must take cognisance of and give practical effect to the government’s stand on abolishing death penalties and not proceed with the cases of those facing the death sentence.

Zaireen’s final appeal will be heard on March 23, 2019, at the Federal Court.

Besides Zaireen, another individual, Muhammad Lukman Mohamad, is also on death row for a similar offence and is awaiting the hearing of his appeal.

Lukman’s lawyer, Farhan Maaruf said the Shah Alam High Court had yet to provide the written judgment after it found Lukman guilty of trafficking in August.

He said the court, in delivering the decision, dismissed testimonies from defence witnesses, or Lukman’s “patients” that he had handed them cannabis oil to treat their sicknesses.

“Our courts still take a restricted approach to such cases regardless of what the accused say,” Farhan said.

Another individual, Amiruddin @ Nadarajan Abdullah is also accused of trafficking in marijuana in 2017 and is still awaiting trial.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye recently said the government would only consider it “medical marijuana” if research showed that it was effective and safe to use.

Thailand recently passed an amendment to allow medical marijuana in the country, the first country to do so in South East Asia.

However, Thailand still outlaws the recreational use of marijuana and those found guilty of possessing weed below 10 kg face a maximum five years in jail.

kitson foong