Malaysia not ready to legalise marijuana, says expert

Health expert Helen Lasimbang says there is always the risk of abuse in legalising marijuana for medical use. (AFP pic)

KOTA KINABALU: A health expert has voiced her opposition to any move to legalise marijuana, even for medical use.

Helen Lasimbang, the CEO of Universiti Malaysia Sabah Hospital, told FMT the country lacked the proper mechanisms to deal with the repercussions of such a move.

“In our environment, there will be more cons than pros,” she said. “There is always the risk of abuse. Even the codeine cough mixture was known to be abused. That’s why it was taken off the market.”

It has been reported that the federal Cabinet had discussed the pros and cons of following Thailand’s example of legalising marijuana and ketum for medical purposes. There has been no announcement of a decision.

The Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association is among the organisations that have called for legalisation. Its president, Nadzim Johan, recently urged the government to accept the use of imported cannabis-based products as medicine.

“We are not ready,” Lasimbang said. “We don’t even have enough treatment or rehabilitation centres with sufficient qualified people to give the treatment.”

Lasimbang is also the president of the Association for the Prevention of Alcohol Misuse.

Veteran consumer activist Patrick Sindu agreed with her, saying Malaysia didn’t need another drug-related problem.

“We all know about the brutal war on drugs in the Philippines in which many people have been killed just because they were suspected to be connected to the drug trade,” he said.

“In our country, there are many instances of drug addicts repeatedly returning to rehabilitation because they just can’t escape the problem.

“It is difficult to completely eradicate drug abuse. We should not make it worse.”