PUTRAJAYA: Founder of the Malaysian Marijuana Education Movement Mohd Zaireen Zainal has escaped the death sentence.
Instead, his charge has been reduced to one of possession of drugs.
The 38-year-old now has to serve 15 years in jail and receive 10 strokes of the rotan.
He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of possession of 1.1kg of cannabis at the Federal Court yesterday.
Chief Judge of Malaya Justice 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, who handed down the unanimous judgment, were Federal Court judges Justices Ramly Ali, Rohana Yusuf, Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Idrus Harun.
Zaireen was seen breaking down in tears when he heard the death sentence had been reduced to a jail term and rotan.
Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Mohd 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.
This is the first case of reduced charge involving marijuana for medical use.
Prior to this, Zaireen’s lawyer had written in to 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, following a tip-off.
During the raid on the top floor of a three-storey shophouse, they found several bottles of cannabis oil and a compressed lump of cannabis.
A chemist later confirmed 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 and the decision was 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.
“He was running a small therapy centre from home to give out appropriate amount of cannabis oil to those who had lost hope in getting their diseases cured by prescribed medicine.
“He only helped to alleviate the pain of patients in his village,” Foong said during mitigation.
Foong pointed out Zaireen’s marriage crumbled while he was in prison and he had also lost custody of his teenage son.
“We are urging the court to impose a minimum jail sentence so that he can return to society,” he said, adding that Zaireen had promised not to repeat the offence.
Foong added that the Dangerous Drugs Act was aimed at curbing addiction arising from drug abuse.
“Here the appellant Zaireen did not possess cannabis with intent to cultivate addiction among the users.
“Rather his intentions were noble. He was helping people suffering from a variety of ailments where western medicine had no effect.
“Numerous countries have since acknowledged the medicinal benefits of cannabis use to treat epilepsy, high blood pressure, cancer, heart diseases as well as depression.
“There was no financial profit or gain obtained or sought by the appellant Zaireen. He left it to the recipients to decide whether to donate or give him a thank you offering if they felt the oil helped them,’’ said Foong.
He submitted also that public interest would best be served in helping Zaireen rehabilitate and reform.
He pleaded for Zaireen to be given a second chance to live a life away from crime.