Medical Marijuana Advocate’s Death Sentence Sparks Outcry

By Victoria Kim 11/15/18
Medical marijuana advocate Muhammad Lukman is just one among about 900 other people on death row for drug offenses in Malaysia.
medical marijuana advocate Muhammad Lukman received the death penalty in Malaysia
Medical marijuana advocate Muhammad Lukman Photo via

Malaysia may be on a path toward drug policy reform.

The Southeast Asian country has some of the harshest drug laws in the world. According to the BBC, cultivating a single cannabis plant can land you in prison for life, while possessing more than 7 ounces “is almost certain to result in a death sentence.”

But recently, Malaysians have been more vocal in protesting these laws. Twenty-nine-year-old Muhammad Lukman was convicted of trafficking in cannabis and sentenced to death by hanging on August 30. This has prompted a public outcry.

According to his lawyer, Farhan Maaruf, Lukman testified that he only sold cannabis oil to help ill patients. If they could not afford it, he would provide it for free.

Lukman’s case has captured the attention of Malaysians. A petition to free Lukman has garnered more than 70,000 signatures as of Nov. 14.

Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad said in September that Lukman’s sentence should be reviewed, according to Reuters. MP Nurul Izzah Anwar declared the case a “miscarriage of justice,” and said at the time that she would urge the attorney general to reconsider Lukman’s case.

Change might be coming. In October, the government announced that it would abolish the death penalty completely. But “suspects convicted for drug trafficking, like Lukman, could however still face jail for decades or life,” the BBC reported.

Lukman is just one among about 900 other people on death row for drug offenses in Malaysia. Others include Mohammed Zaireen bin Zainal, the founder of the Malaysian Marijuana Education Movement. He is waiting for a final appeal.

A medical marijuana patient and advocate named Yuki is hoping Lukman’s case will spark a shift in Malaysia’s drug laws.

Yuki, 41, has been using marijuana to help ease chronic, debilitating pain from hypokalaemia (low blood potassium) since she was 29 years old.

She’s now at the forefront of the campaign to reform Malaysia’s drug laws. “If you are desperate, you are sick, you will do anything. We go online, we search about it, we find out about it. The government doesn’t want to give it to us but we will still find it,” she said.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr