Indonesia has gone so far in such a short period of time in regards to attitudes towards medical marijuana.
Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin yesterday said the government is close to passing regulations allowing for research into medical uses of the illegal plant.
“We are evaluating it. Soon regulations for medical purposes will be issued,” Budi said, without specifying a date.
“Morphine is stronger than marijuana, but it’s used medically. Marijuana is a lot like morphine in that regard, and morphine has its benefits.”
Budi’s statement came after Vice President Ma’ruf Amin earlier this week called on the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) — the nation’s highest clerical body — to issue a fatwa (religious edict) permitting marijuana for medical use. Ma’ruf chaired MUI before becoming vice president in 2019.
The topic itself was thrust into the spotlight in Indonesia after singer Andien posted a photo of a woman named Santi Warastuti, who is pleading for legal concessions for medical marijuana in order to ease the suffering experienced by her daughter, who has cerebral palsy.
Santi, along with two other mothers whose children suffer from conditions that can be relieved by medical marijuana, filed a legal challenge against Indonesia’s prohibition of all forms of marijuana with the Constitutional Court (MK) in 2020.
MUI says it will soon hold discussions about a fatwa approving medical marijuana, which would be a huge boost to Santi’s legal review.
Both the government and the House of Representatives (DPR) this week pledged to consider studies advocating marijuana for medical use.
The possibility of medical marijuana becoming legal in Indonesia inevitably reminds us of Fidelis Arie Sudewarto, an Indonesian man who was sentenced to eight months in prison in 2017 for growing marijuana used to treat his dying wife. Though Fidelis’ final sentence was still harsher than what his supporters or even the prosecution had hoped for, it could still be considered a merciful one as Indonesia’s notoriously harsh drug laws carry a maximum charge of a life sentence.