Nurul Izzah to appeal to AG to pardon medical marijuana distributor on death row

  • Nation
  • Monday, 17 Sep 2018

PETALING JAYA: Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar will be writing an appeal to Attorney General Tommy Thomas seeking a pardon for Muhammad Lukman, who was recently sentenced to death for possessing, processing and distributing medical marijuana (cannabis oil). 

“Yes, we are following up. Personally speaking, I am writing an appeal to the AG - first and foremost to secure a pardon based on the merits of his case and predicament.

"And secondly, to eventually decriminalise the use of cannabis oil for medical reasons,” she told The Star Online on Monday (Sept 17). 

Nurul Izzah labelled Lukman’s death sentence, which was meted down to him earlier this month, as a miscarriage of justice. 

Lukman, a 29-year-old father of one, was arrested in Dec 2015 for the possession of 3.1 litres of cannabis oil, 279 grams of compressed cannabis, 1.4kg of substance containing tetrahydrocan nabinol (THC). 

He was nabbed by the police along with his five-month pregnant wife, who was freed later, during a raid at his home. He was handed a death sentence by the Shah Alam High Court on Aug 30.

Meanwhile, a petition calling for the release of Lukman is now making rounds in social media with 41,137 signatures as of Monday. 

The petition was started after a column by the Star news editor Martin Vengadesan on Sept 9 highlighted Lukman’s case.

“For those who were never exposed to the cannabis world, we treat it as a taboo topic.

"While at the same time, cannabis is becoming increasingly accepted in many countries as a plant with various benefits, particularly the treatment of various chronic diseases," wrote the authors of the petition.

“It’s time for us to review the definition of what distinguishes an individual, a distributor, an addict, or a genuine patient that needs cannabis for treatment.”

On Sept 9, his lawyer Farhan Maaruf told The Star that Lukman only wanted to assist patients who are suffering from ailments that can be treated by THC, an active ingredient in cannabis. 

Lukman had no intention whatsoever to distribute or “push” cannabis on the streets, his lawyer Farhan said. 

Lukman’s case is not the only one of its kind as Amiruddin @ Nadarajan Abdullah, who is known as Dr Ganja, is facing 36 charges and the death sentence for similar offences. His advocates claim he has helped treat more than 800 people.

Under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, individuals caught possessing 200 grams or more of cannabis, will be charged under drug trafficking, which carries the death penalty. 

However, in many developed countries, the trend is to decriminalise and even legalise marijuana, particularly for medical purposes.

Apart from the Netherlands, on October 17, 2018, Canada will legalise recreational marijuana in full.

In Argentina, the government has been providing medical marijuana since March 2017 while it has been legal in Australia for the last two years. In Uruguay, you can buy it from regular pharmacies. 

Switzerland and Russia have also decriminalised marijuana in small amounts. Similarly, laws on it have been relaxed in 17 US states, including California, Colorado, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon and Washington.

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