Medical marijuana advocate escapes gallows with reduced charge

PUTRAJAYA: A man who once headed a pro-medical marijuana group today escaped the gallows with a reduced charge of possessing 1.1kg of cannabis, or weed.

Mohd Zaireen Zainal was initially charged with trafficking drugs, which carries the death sentence.

However, he was sentenced by the Federal Court to 15 years in prison and 10 strokes of the cane after pleading guilty to the lesser charge.

Chief Judge of Malaya Zaharah Ibrahim ordered Zaireen to serve out his jail term from the date of his arrest on Aug 27, 2014.

The other judges on the panel were Ramly Ali, Rohana Yusof, Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Idrus Harun.

Deputy public prosecutor Dusuki Mokhtar told the court that the prosecution had agreed to reduce Zaireen’s drug trafficking charge under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act and substitute it with Section 6 of the same law.

Zaireen previously asked the Attorney-General’s Chambers to review his drug trafficking charge on grounds that there were no trafficking elements in his case.

According to the facts of the case, the police raided Zaireen’s home in Batu Pahat, Johor, in the early hours of Aug 27, 2014, after receiving a tip-off.

During the raid, they found several bottles of cannabis oil and a compressed lump of cannabis.

A chemist later confirmed that the seized items comprised 1.1kg of cannabis and 58.5ml of Tetrahydrocannabinol, a substance found in marijuana.

The Muar High Court sentenced Zaireen to death for trafficking in 2014, a decision upheld by the Court of Appeal.

However, Zaireen’s lawyer Kitson Foong said his client had never meant to harm anyone with the amount of cannabis in his possession.

“The possession was not meant for making profit because he only gave it to sick individuals in his village as an alternative treatment,” he said.

He added that Zaireen, who had been held in prison since his arrest, had lost custody of his teenage son.

“We are urging the court to impose a minimum jail sentence so that he can return to society. His family members are still supportive of him,” he said, adding that Zaireen had promised not to repeat the offence.