Indonesia constitutional court rejects latest push to allow medical use of cannabis

INDONESIA’S constitutional court ruled that existing laws on narcotics are constitutional, rejecting requests to use marijuana for medical purposes.

The country’s top court did crack the door for potential future use of cannabis for health conditions by ordering the government to review the way it categorises narcotics.

A change in the existing classification would be needed to allow medical marijuana to become available in Indonesia, presiding judge Anwar Usman said in the ruling on Wednesday (Jul 20).

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The Straits Times covers the issue in more detail

JAKARTA (REUTERS, JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Indonesia’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday (July 20) rejected a judicial review of the country’s narcotics law that would have paved the way for legalising marijuana for medicinal use, a panel of nine judges ruled.

The review was filed in 2020 by several civil society organisations and three mothers of children with cerebral palsy who had advocated for legalising medicinal marijuana to treat the condition.

The judges said there was insufficient research to justify a ruling in favour of the plaintiffs, but urged the government to “immediately” conduct research on the therapeutic usage of narcotics.

“The court needs to emphasise that the government immediately follow up… The results of which can be used to determine policies, including in this case the possibility of changing the law,” said judge Suhartoyo, who like many Indonesians uses one name only.

The plaintiffs had argued that not being allowed to use narcotics for medical reasons was a constitutional violation of citizens’ rights to obtain health services and benefit from the development of science and technology.

The National Narcotics Agency was sceptical of the push to legalise the drug.

General Sulistyo Pudjo Hartono, the agency’s head of public relations, told local media recently that legalising medical marijuana would make the Indonesian strains more lucrative for drug traffickers to peddle, resulting in “an extraordinary increase in crime”.

“The Constitutional Court has only shifted the responsibility to the government by asking the government to immediately conduct research,” said Mr Yosua Octavian, from the Legal Aid Institute, a civil society group involved in the case.

“The point has been rejected… So people who use marijuana for health reasons in Indonesia will continue to be punished.”

The issue has recently gained traction after a mother, Ms Santi Warastuti, whose 13-year-old daughter has cerebral palsy, called for the legalisation of marijuana for medical research on a busy street in downtown Jakarta.

The 43-year-old mother went viral after she held a placard on a crowded thoroughfare that read: “Help, my child needs medical marijuana.”

Indonesia’s parliament has recently discussed amending the rules governing medicinal marijuana, saying it would undertake a comprehensive study on its benefits.

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