Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said some form of organised control mechanism needs to be conceived first for those studying the proposed industrialisation of cannabis and ketum. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
PUTRAJAYA, Oct 6 — Some form of organised control mechanism needs to be conceived first for those studying the proposed industrialisation of cannabis and ketum, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.
He said the step was necessary to protect Malaysians from any harm due to the abuse and addiction of psychotropic substances available in both plants.
“Even though there are those who proposed that we allow the export of ketum to our neighbouring country, I am of the view that any crop for export purposes will become a commodity crop,” he said at the opening ceremony of the 2022 National Drug Addiction Science Symposium themed “Sharing Facts, Love the Malaysian Family” (Kongsi Fakta, Sayangi Keluarga Malaysia) organised by the National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK).
His speech was read by Home Ministry deputy secretary-general Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Rahman. Also present was AADK director-general Sutekno Ahmad Belon.
Hamzah said besides cannabis, control over the cultivation of ketum has been in place since 2003 with the listing of the alkaloid mitragynine found in the ketum plant as a psychotropic substance that has a hypnotic effect on its users under the third schedule of the Poisons Act 1952.
Hamzah said it encompasses special control on all importation, sales, supply, ownership and using them under the Poisons (Psychotropic Substances) Regulations 1989.
He said individuals who commit offences under the act can be fined not more than RM10,000 or jail not more than four years or both.
Hamzah also said Malaysia was facing new challenges related to changes in drug policies in neighbouring countries like Thailand which has now removed marijuana from its list of narcotic drugs last June 9.
“This new development has given rise to new challenges to Malaysia in our efforts to curb the activities of smuggling, distribution, addiction and drug abuse in the country,” he said.
According to Hamzah, there is a worry that Malaysians travelling to Thailand will be easily exposed to cannabis-based products in the form of food, beverages and supplements which are sold openly in that country.
“Furthermore, the cannabis-based products in the form of food, drinks and supplements may be smuggled into our country unknowingly,” he said.
Hamzah also said drug and substance abuse has had a major impact on healthcare, public services, public order and national security.
He said to reduce risk to the public, the government has allocated funds each year to curb smuggling and drug distribution, increase awareness and advocacy to the community and also drug rehabilitation efforts.
“In 2021, out of the 1234,139 drug addicts and users of illegal substances detected in Malaysia, 66 per cent or 81,112 people were aged 19-39.
“This figure shows that the involvement of this group in the problem of drug and substance addiction and abuse is high and very worrying,” he said.
Hamzah said in 2020, 53 member countries of the World Health Organisation (WHO), during the 63rd Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND) conference, supported a proposal to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
“Whatever the outcome of the NCD conference, our stand on the status of control over cannabis and all cannabis-related substances in the country remains the same under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952. Legal action will continue to be taken against those who violate the provisions under the Act,” he said.
He added that the Home Ministry was actively mobilising the ‘Kita Demi Negara’ campaign to give awareness to the community to jointly shoulder the responsibility of maintaining the security and national order, including curbing addiction and abuse of drugs and substances. — Bernama