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Indonesia Sees Setback In Medical Cannabis Reform

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The Asian country appears to be on the fast track to follow Thailand into the medical cannabis reform column. Unfortunately, the Constitutional Court has rejected the plea to review the Narcotics Act – leaving reform in the hands of the legislators

A major lawsuit launched in Indonesia has now failed in its bid to convince the country’s highest court to amend the national Narcotics Act to exclude cannabis. For all the good news, it is important to remember that cannabis reform is still not a given in too many countries in the world. Many of those nations are now located in Asia.

Beyond Australia and New Zealand, Thailand remains the only other Asian country to have begun the process, although it was widely hoped that the court would accept the judicial review.

However, all is not lost. The impact of the case that got to the court in the first place is having a huge impact on the discussion far beyond the courtroom. Indeed, the story of Santi Warastuti along with the two other plaintiffs and their children is one that has ignited a storm of political support.

The Vice President of the country, moved by the plight of the suffering children in the case recently told the top religious body in the country to issue a fatwa – a religious decree – allowing Muslims to use cannabis.

Beyond this, the Parliament is currently considering a medical cannabis law.

The court may have failed to act, but the fight is very far from being over.

The Thai Tipping Point?

Thailand is clearly creating waves throughout Asia in its fast movement towards not only medical cannabis for domestic use, but also for export. The country has quickly established not only a wide domestic medical cultivation base but is now actively seeking to sell its medical crops abroad (starting with Germany).

This rapid conversion, along with the establishment of export markets in both New Zealand and Australia, is clearly making regional news.

Asia could easily become one of if not the centres of cannabis production and consumption globally. Many believe the plant originated from this part of the world. It has certainly shown up in almost every Asian country’s history – mostly used as a medicine or religious herb – or both.

The impact of the Asian region finally swinging, en masse, to even “just” medical reform cannot be understated.

That is why it is important that Indonesia continue down its current path of reform.

No matter the setback, in other words, in the judicial arena, it is also clear that forward progress is coming here. Just not via the courts – but rather the legislature.