PUTRAJAYA: It is up to the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) to decide on the calls to legalise the use of cannabis oil for medical treatment.
However, there is no substantial scientific evidence yet that it can be used to for medical treatment, said Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
Speaking at a press conference about the cabinet meeting on Wednesday (Sept 19), he said that currently, the law provides for such drugs to be brought in for research only with the approval of the Health Minister.
But for cannabis, it falls under the Dangerous Drug Act (DDA) and hence, governed by the law, he said.
Any changes to the law would have to refer to the Attorney-General's Chambers, he said, adding that the matter had been brought up to the cabinet for discussion.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah explained that currently, there was no substantial research showing that cannabis oil has been proven to cure, hence, it is not used in mainstream medical treatment.
"For the Health Ministry, it has to comply with the DDA. But as far as research is concerned, it can be used even if the drug if not registered in the country, such as the Hepatitis C drug.
"The Ministry can give exemption for its use in research," he said, adding that if cannabis is to be used for therapeutic purpose, it must be substantiated with data and data must come with research.
And even with the use of morphine in hospital setting, the DDA requires that it be prescribed by a qualified person and not any doctor, he said.
Dr Dzulkefly was referring to the case of Muhammad Lukman, a 29-year-old father of one who was sentenced to death for possessing, processing and distributing medical marijuana (cannabis oil).
He was arrested in 2015 for the possession of 3.1 litres of cannabis oil, 279 grams of compressed cannabis and 1.4kg of substance containing tetrahydrocan nabininol (THC). Muhammad Lukman was given the death sentence by the Shah Alam High Court on Aug 30.
The case has attracted widespread attention, with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir indicating that the government should review the case, while Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar has said she will be writing an appeal to the Attorney-General seeking a pardon for Muhammad Lukman.
Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar has also said he would take the issue of medical marijuana law reform to the cabinet.
Dr Xavier told the Star Online he would like the law to be amended so that medical marijuana and cannabis oil are decriminalised under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.
"The Government should look at this law considering that many other countries have reviewed it.
"There is plenty of medical research to support the healing properties of medical marijuana and cannabis oil," said Dr Xavier.