Framework on medical cannabis products to be released this year

Khairy says the science behind CBD was compelling, and hopes the govt’s policy on the matter would reflect that

by FAYYADH JAAFAR / Pic by TMR FILE

THE prescription of cannabidiol (CBD), a substance derived from cannabis, is expected to be legalised next year following the announcement of a new framework for its registration by the Ministry of Health (MoH).

The ministry said that it would be issuing a framework for the registration of CBD products by this year, adding that the guidelines were developed after extensive research.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin (picture) said that the science behind CBD was compelling, and he hoped that the government’s policy on the matter would reflect that.

According to the minister, the framework for CBD will be released sometime this year.

“We will invite people to submit proposals for products that they wish to register and how they wish to go about doing it,” he said.

“MoH is committed to evidence and science,” Khairy said further.

“I will announce the framework for which we will be registering certain CBD products by next year. I’m convinced of the science, and I’m working internally to ensure that everyone in the MoH is on board, because I can’t be an outlier in this. I have to get institutional backing,” Khairy said in a media briefing this morning.

He added that the manner in which the ministry handled the issue of CBD must be done in a measured and well-informed way since it was a highly sensitive subject.

“As with any substance, with psychoactive substances especially, we have to be very careful about how we proceed. I’m convinced by the evidence for CBD.

“I don’t think at this moment we will be allowing it for self-medicating purposes. I still feel that we should start with it being prescribed,” he explained.

“That will require some education and some training of medical officers so that they know in what circumstances they can prescribe CBD. And then from there, it has to be stepwise and we have to be calibrated in how we do this. But I think we are ready.”

Touching on the shift in public perception toward drug users, the minister said that it was important for the government to be mindful of the changing attitudes among the public.

He explained that punitive approaches to drug offences had led to an increase in the number of inmates in prisons.

“Drug offenders make up the biggest number of inmates in our prisons, and our prisons are overcrowded. The amount that we spend on prisons increases because of the number of adults being incarcerated.

“A large proportion of drug offenders while incarcerated are those with minor drug offences.”

Khairy said that the findings’ substance would guide policymakers in determining how to deal with drugs and drug-related offences in the future.

“There is a huge problem here, beyond the obvious fact that, of course, drugs when misused are a bad thing. As a health minister, that is categorical.

“So, I think there’s a huge role for us to follow up from the study in terms of, as I said earlier, advocacy, working together with the community in sharing the new outlook towards drugs and drug offenders,” said the Rembau MP.

“There is also an indication of openness to the use of certain control drugs. Now I’ve touched on that in my remarks about CBD for now. And I hope that that debate will be done in a rational manner.”