By LeeWEpstein

June 12, 2020


A group of Indonesian activists rallying under the banner of the Advocacy Coalition for Narcotics Usage for Medication is calling for the decriminalization of the medical use of cannabis.

The request follows the arrest last November of Reyndhart Siahaan, a 37-year-old man from Jakarta, for allegedly using cannabis.

Reyndhart’s lawyer, Herie CN, said his client was using cannabis to relieve the pain caused by the compression of his spinal cord, a condition he has suffered from since 2015.

My client has had spinal nerve problems since 2015 and the disease returned in 2018,” Herie said. “He learned on the Internet that boiled cannabis water can help relieve his pain.

Reyndhart was charged under article 127 of the Narcotics Act No. 35/2009, which carries a penalty of one year’s imprisonment.

The coalition of activists argued that the law should not restrict the use of narcotics for medical purposes.

Although section 8 of the Narcotics Law prohibits the use of type 1 narcotics for medical purposes, the original intent of the law is to ensure the availability of narcotics for medical services. The criminalization of people who need narcotics for treatment contradicts the main purpose of the existence of narcotics, which is for the health of all Indonesians,” the group said in a statement Wednesday.

The statement also mentions a similar case in 2017, when a 36-year-old man named Fidelis Arie was arrested for using cannabis to relieve his wife who was suffering from terminal syringomyelia. During his trial, Fidelis’ wife died due to a lack of treatment. Fidelis was sentenced to eight months in prison and fined 1 billion rupees (US$7,1159).

The coalition explained that the right to medical services as a fundamental human right as stipulated in Article 28 H of the 1945 Constitution.

Drawing on the cases of Fidelis and Reynhardt, it is time for Indonesia to open its doors and offer the possibility of using type 1 narcotics for medical purposes, the coalition said in the statement.

The coalition expressed the hope that the judges will be able to put forward the right to health and release Reyndhart from all charges.

What Reinhardt has done could be considered an emergency because cannabis has effectively treated his illness. Article 48 of the criminal code states that those who commit a criminal offense on grounds of emergency cannot be charged, the group continued.

The coalition also urged the government to re-evaluate the prohibition of type 1 narcotics in medical fields and to conduct research on cannabis.

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