Cannabis meds on sale in Malaysia by 2023: Health minister

He also said he was convinced about the evidence of the use for cannabidiol for medicinal purposes.

Ragananthini Vethasalam and Junaid Ibrahim

Ragananthini Vethasalam and Junaid Ibrahim

The Star


July 15, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR : Registration of cannabidiol (CBD) products is likely to begin next year with a framework on the registration of cannabis products for medicinal use expected to be released sometime this year, says Khairy Jamaluddin.

“I target that next year, we can start registering a few CBD products,” the Health Minister said, adding that the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) would analyse proposals on the implementation.

Khairy said factors such as the product’s authenticity, safety and efficacy against certain conditions needed to be determined.

In addition to that, he said medical practitioners would also have to be trained to prescribe CBD for medicinal use.

“Once available, CBD has to be prescribed and cannot be bought over the counter.

“For the time being, I am looking at prescribed CBD and not for self-medication. Recreational use of cannabis is a far cry. It will be limited to only CBD,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of The Centre’s Drug Perception Study Report yesterday.

“This is the first step. It is better we take cautious steps in line with international standards and scientific data.”

Khairy also said the ministry would study the circumstances under which CBD could be prescribed.

On cultivation of the cannabis plant, he said it was not on the cards for now.

“That is still far away. We go step by step,” he said, adding that it was important to look at the response to the products first.

“If the acceptance is huge and it is safe and efficacious, only then we can think about cultivation.”

He said he was convinced about the evidence of the use for CBD for medicinal purposes.

He said the products would have to undergo clinical trials on their use for certain medical conditions, adding that talks would be held with researchers from local universities including Universiti Malaya.

On another matter, Khairy said the Cabinet had approved the draft of the proposed Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill on Wednesday.

“So, I will be sending it to Parliament for the coming meeting,” he said.

The proposed Bill has provisions to prohibit the sales of cigarettes, tobacco and vape products to those born after 2005.

The Dewan Rakyat will convene from July 18 to Aug 4.

Meanwhile, Persatuan Pengasih Malaysia president Ramli Abd Samad said while the announcement made by the Health Ministry to release the framework for the registration of CBD products next year was welcome, the rakyat must be properly informed about it first.

“Our current education on drugs is creating a stigma towards the substance itself and the addicts including their family.

“When people hear ‘cannabis’, the first thing in their mind would be the negative effects of it, while in fact there are scientific proofs on its benefits,” he said.

Citing morphine as an example, despite being a dangerous substance if used wrongly, it still possesses benefits as a painkiller.

Ramli said CBD would be beneficial to some groups of people, especially those who are suffering from terminally-ill diseases and mental health disorders.

Universiti Malaya’s Centre for Addiction Sciences director Assoc Prof Dr Rusdi Abd Rashid said the government should speed up the permission to bring cannabis into the country for research purposes.

Dr Rusdi, whose research is on the use of cannabis for autistic persons with behavioural problems, said the delay would lengthen the time for him to finish his studies.

“I need the finished material. If the government does not allow the finished product to be brought in, I cannot continue with the research.

“And the research would then take another two years before it can be prescribed to patients,” he added.

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