A man has been sentenced to death in Malaysia for processing cannabis oil and distributing it to patients in need.
On 30 August, the Shah Alam High Court sentenced Muhammad Lukman to death by hanging, after he was convicted of possessing, processing, and distributing cannabis oil. Three litres of cannabis oil and 279 grams of compressed cannabis were found in his home, according to local sources.
Lukman, a 29-year-old father of one, provided cannabis oil to patients who were suffering from ailments that were difficult to treat with legal medicines. Lukman did not profit from this, and would provide cannabis oil for free to patients who could not afford it. Despite the lack of financial gain from his endeavour, his offences fall under section 39B of Malaysia’s Dangerous Drugs Act 1952. This stipulates that “Any person who [traffics an illegal drug] shall be guilty of an offence against this Act and shall be punished on conviction with death”.
Lukman’s defence team called upon patients who had successfully used his cannabis oil to treat their illnesses, and emphasised that he produced and provided the medicine on a non-profit basis for their wellbeing. The prosecution argued that, regardless of intent or revenue, Lukman produced and distributed an illegal drug that is not recognised for its medical uses by the Ministry of Health or any accredited Malaysian physician. This lack of recognition, the judge concluded, invalidated Lukman’s defence.
Although it has not been approved in Malaysia, cannabis oil is used to medically treat a range of ailments among adults and children in Canada, many US states, and several European countries.
Despite Lukman’s lawyers’ plea for a reduced sentence, his mitigation was rejected and he was sentenced to death by hanging. Lukman will appeal his sentence at the Court of Appeal.
“This is not the fault of the judge, he only performed his task in accordance with the written law,” Lukman said. “It’s clear that he was unaware about the truth [of medical cannabis]. I believe this is not the final verdict. If it is, Malaysia laws are cruel.”
Lukman’s case is not unique in Malaysia. A former military captain, Amiruddin Nadarajan Abdullah, is currently on trial for providing medical cannabis products to as many as 800 patients, Free Malaysia Today reports. Former patients, including young children and grandparents, are among those who have come to court to show their support for Abdullah – known among his patients at Dr. Ganja. If convicted, Abdullah also faces the death sentence.
Malaysia is one of at least 33 countries that retains the death penalty for drug offences.
A petition supporting Muhammad Lukman's release has been posted here.