The Jakarta Post
Three mothers of sick children are fighting for legal changes to allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Together, they submitted a request to the Constitutional Court on Thursday for a judicial review of the 2009 Narcotics Law.
Specifically, Dwi, Santi and Novia demanded a revision of Article 6 Clause 1 of the law, which classifies cannabis as a type-1 narcotic and thereby rules out its use for medical purposes.
The attorney of the plaintiffs, Ma’ruf Bajammal from the Community Legal Aid Institute (LBH Masyarakat), said his clients had been struggling to get access to marijuana to treat their sick children.
"My first client, Dwi has a child who suffered from pneumonia," Ma'ruf said on Thursday as reported by Kompas.com.
He explained that Dwi had been informed that cannabidiol (CBD) oil extracted from marijuana plants could help treat the disease.
“She had her child undergo CBD therapy in Australia in 2016, and the child’s condition started to improve,” he said, adding that the family could not continue the therapy back at home.
His other client, Santi, has a child whose health has dwindled since he entered kindergarten.
A foreign friend had recommended that Santi treat her child with CBD oil, but she did not have the courage to try the method due to the restriction stipulated in the Narcotics Law.
Meanwhile, Novia wants to use CBD oil to treat her epileptic child.
Ma’ruf argued that criminalizing the medical use of type-1 narcotics was against the Constitution that guaranteed every citizen's right to medical care.
"Banning narcotics type-1 for medical use is against Clause 1 of Article 28 of the Constitution," Ma'ruf said.
The article states that everyone has the right to mental and physical welfare, to a place of residence, a safe and healthy environment, and medical services.
Ma'ruf also argued that Article 6 of the Narcotics Law contradicted the original intent of the law which aimed to legalize narcotics for medicinal purposes.
"For comparison, there are at least 40 countries that allow the use of CBD oil for medical use, such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, the United States, and even one of our neighboring countries, Thailand," he said.
Besides the three individuals, several NGOs such as The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), the Jakarta-based Community Legal Aid Institute (LBH Masyarakat), the Indonesian Judicial Research Society (IJRS) and the Bali Health Foundation (Yakeba), have also filed for a judicial review of the law.
Indonesia has seen growing calls to revise the 2009 Narcotics Law – one of the strictest drug laws in the world.
Several high profile cases have sparked debates over the need to legalize cannabis for medical use.
In 2017, a West Kalimantan resident named Fidelis Arie was sentenced to eight months in jail and fined Rp 1 billion (US$ 70,592) for growing and using marijuana to treat his sick wife.
Fidelis's wife, who died a month after his arrest, suffered from syringomyelia, a rare disorder in which a cyst forms within the spinal cord.
He argued before the court that his late wife’s conditions had improved after she had been treated with cannabis oil, as it allowed her to sleep well and gave her an appetite.
In July, the Advocacy Coalition for Narcotics Usage for Medication, along with several other civil society groups, also called for the decriminalization of marijuana for medical treatments following the arrest of Reyndhart Siahaan, a 37-year-old man from East Jakarta.
Reyndhart was arrested for allegedly consuming boiled marijuana water to relieve the pain caused by spinal cord compression, a disease he has suffered since 2015.
Scientific studies and anecdotal evidence have indicated that cannabis can be used for medicinal purposes, including to treat nausea, pain, loss of appetite, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, muscle spasms and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (nal)