National Narcotics Agency chief says he will never support medical marijuana in Indonesia

Marijuana may be used for medical purposes. PHOTO: File
Marijuana may be used for medical purposes. PHOTO: File

He’s supposed to say it, but a statement by the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) chief nevertheless represents a minor setback for medical marijuana in Indonesia.

Petrus Reinhard Golose yesterday attended a House of Parliament (DPR) Commission III session discussing the subject. Let’s just say he didn’t mince his words.

“As the head of the National Narcotics Agency of the Republic of Indonesia, I will never [support medical marijuana]. For as long as I am the head, I will never approve marijuana,” he said.

Lawmaker I Wayan Sudirta challenged Petrus and listed medical marijuana’s benefits, but the BNN chief didn’t waver as he believes that there are other legal substances that provide the same medical properties as marijuana.

“I will say just one thing: if you go home and you see your grandchild high, how would you feel?” Petrus told Wayan.

Last year, hope bloomed for the legalization of medical marijuana after Vice President Ma’ruf Amin called on the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) — the highest Islamic clerical body in the Muslim-majority country — to issue a fatwa (religious edict) to allow utilization of the plant for medical purposes only. Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin then said that the government is set to pass regulations allowing for medical marijuana research.

The fact that those once-improbable statements were said without much scrutiny in this country owed greatly to the plight of several parents whose children suffer from conditions that could be relieved by medical marijuana. They filed a legal challenge against Indonesia’s prohibition of all forms of marijuana — which is classified as a Class I narcotic under the 2009 Narcotics Law — with the Constitutional Court in 2020.

Yet, despite the positive sentiments, the court dismissed the challenge.

That’s not to say that medical marijuana has been nipped in the bud entirely. The government may still conduct research on medical marijuana, weigh its pros and cons, and draft a bill to revise the Narcotics Law. That bill may then be passed by the DPR into law.

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