"We have been rejected since 2018"

Malaysian researcher highlights legal hurdle to cannabis research

For the past four years, local researchers from public universities have failed to study cannabis due to legal restrictions imposed by the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA) 1952. Nur Azzalia Kamaruzaman, director of the National Poison Centre at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), said according to the narcotics law, which bans cannabis among other illicit drugs, the Ministry of Health (MOH) can authorize 'pegawai awam' (public officers) to conduct research on cannabis.  

"Unfortunately, us in academia, we are not considered that. We are ‘penjawat awam’ (civil servants). So, there is a bit of technicality," Nur Azzalia told a forum on medical cannabis at a symposium jointly organized by the Malaysian Parliament and Universiti Malaya's law faculty alumni association in Parliament last Tuesday.

"At the same time, what is quite interesting is in 2019, there was a 'minit mesyuarat Jemaah Menteri' (Cabinet minutes), whereby it was stated that UA, 'universiti awam' (public universities), such as USM, can be involved in such research. "So actually, we began pursuing this based on the Jemaah Menteri's stance. We've been rejected since then. We started in 2018."

Nur Azzalia pointed out that USM's research team was still unable to get approval despite restricting their intended study to hemp, excluding cannabis strains that contain the THC psychoactive compound. "We've given, we feel that the most advanced proposal that we can possibly make. We started with the first government, and it's been three governments since then, and we've been rejected," she said.

To read the complete article, go to codeblue.galencentre.org

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