When it comes to any issue about drugs in Malaysia, the laws are strict. Therefore, if any individual is caught by the authorities for drug trafficking or being in any other drug-related offences, stern and severe action will be taken. Most of the time, it will cost the individual their life.
In 2017, a military retiree Amiruddin Nadarajan Abdullah, a.k.a ‘Dr. Ganja’ was arrested and charged for 36 drug-related offences under the Dangerous Drugs Act in Malaysia. The act also states that any individual found with 200 grams of marijuana is at risk to be charged for drug trafficking and consequently, sentenced to death.
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‘Doktor Ganja’ – Documentary To Follow Man Fighting For His Life & Medical Marijuana in Malaysian Prison In 2017, Amiruddin Nadarajan Abdullah, a.k.a ‘Dr Ganja’ was arrested and charged for an astonishing 36 drug-related offences under the Dangerous Drugs Act in Malaysia. Under the Act, anyone found with 200 grams of marijuana risks being charged for drug trafficking and sentenced to death. As of October 2019, Amnesty International reported that 1,281 people were on death row in Malaysia, of which 73% had been convicted of drug trafficking offences. Currently a moratorium on executions is in place in Malaysia, but the fate of many still hangs in the balance. ‘Doktor Ganja’ will follow Amiruddin’s venture into medical marijuana to help treat illness, juxtaposed in a country where the use of marijuana is widely condemned and punishable with death. The documentary will premiere at FFF following full production later this year. Find out more about FFF2020 film grant winners Loh Jo Yee and Hidayah Hisham & their upcoming doc via: https:/bit.ly/DrGanja2020 #RaceHuman #BangsaManusia #FFF2020 @goetheinstitut_kualalumpur @euinmalaysia @amnesty_my @mata_kanta
With that, a report in 2019 by Amnesty International states that a total of 1,281 people were on death row in Malaysia, of which 73% had been convicted of drug trafficking. The report also states that the death penalty is cruel as it uses torture and other ill-treatment methods to gain confessions from victims. As of right now, a moratorium on the death penalty is placed but the chances are still slim, as it might be enforced again leaving the fate of many unbalanced.
Prior to his arrest, Amiruddin found the use of marijuana to be comforting as he used it to treat his own chronic illnesses. This then gave him the idea to help others who suffered from epilepsy and leukaemia in Malaysia.
Although the story of Dr. Ganja is not talked about a lot in public, his backstory definitely did catch the attention of Malaysian filmmaking duo, Loh Jo Yee (24), a video producer in Petaling Jaya, and Hidayah Hisham (24), a video producer at BFM 89.9 in Kuala Lumpur.
They channelled their inspiration into an upcoming documentary about his life and ventures in medical marijuana, aptly titled Doktor Ganja, which will premier at this year’s Freedom Film Fest (FFF). For those unaware, FFF is a Malaysian non-profit organisation that focuses in developing social documentaries within the context of freedom of expression and values contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in Malaysia.
The pair are also one of the three winners of 2020’s FFF’s film grant.
According to the girls in The Freedom Film Network Website, the documentary will give the audience a closer look at the people, specifically in Dr. Ganja’s life, who had suffered as well as benefitted from marijuana in Malaysia.
“It’s a personal recount of survival when the odds are against you in every way, but his persistence is admirable – you can’t help but root for him despite his optimism against the set reality of Malaysia’s laws,” said Hidayah.
“We want the public to realise the topic of drug use is a multifaceted issue and it’s never really set in stone. We hope that our film allows viewers to cross-examine the topic from various perspectives – legal, medical and even socially to really see this topic from a widened and more nuanced perspective,” added Jo Yee.
In recent years, cannabis’ medicinal properties and economical benefits have been recognised by more than a few governments around the world – Thailand’s government being one of the latest to decriminalise the usage of medical marijuana in 2018, and the first South-East Asian country to do so.
In 2019, as reported in MalaysiaKini, former Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad told the Dewan Rakyat that there is “space for the ministry to get consent” for clinical research into the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The filming for Doktor Ganja started earlier this month as the pair had taken the initiative to engage and interact with local and regional NGOs that are involved in harm reduction policy. This is to gain more information in order to urge and push for reforms within the legal and medical sector.
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