In Malaysia, the topic of marijuana use is usually approached with caution since there have been many sensationalised cases of individuals being prosecuted for administering cannabis as medicine to people struck with grave illnesses. Be that as it may, marijuana is the most-debated drug in the country due to its alleged health benefits.
With stories like Doktor Ganja and Muhammad Lukman being used as cautionary tales for those who are thinking of venturing into medical marijuana, it seems like Malaysia is far from joining our neighbour, Thailand, in welcoming cannabis as a medical alternative. However, this hasn’t stopped local activists from pushing to decriminalise the plant.
One such activist comes in the most unexpected form – the Princess of Pahang, Tengku Chanela Jamidah.
The daughter of the late Tengku Arif Bendahara Ibrahim, Tengku Chanela is aware of her privileges as a royal, which she doesn’t take lightly. She said,
“People always assume that as a tengku (royal) I must have been born with a silver spoon. I may have been born the daughter of a Tengku Bendahara (royal prince), but my siblings and I have had to work really hard to make a name for ourselves.”
With the resources accessible to her, she started advocating for cannabis use as a patron of Malaysia Society of Awareness (MASA), which is a non-profit organisation that is aimed towards de-stigmatising, decriminalising and legalising marijuana. With her help, the organisation has released a manifesto that details the economic, medical and social benefits of cannabis.
Her first encounter with marijuana came when she started taking CBD (cannabidiol) oil for anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain. She called the experience “mind-blowing” for it improved her quality of life. Moving forward, she began sharing her experience with her friends, hence initiating her advocacy for the plant.
Now, Tengku Chanela is a mother of two and a resident of Los Angeles and Las Vegas. She splits her time between being the founder of two fashion and beauty brands as well as being a health and wellness expert.
Through a series of social media posts recently, Tengku Chanela called out the Malaysian government for their draconian measures towards medical marijuana practitioners.
There seems to be a significant shift in perspective towards marijuana in Malaysia when the movement to legalise the drug received a boost last year when the director-general of the National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) suggested that it was possible to apply for a medical exemption from the Health Ministry, according to Malay Mail.
No matter which direction the movement is headed towards, the fact of the matter is that the consumption of marijuana will always be a divisive topic. Based on the current climate, with both sides of the spectrum rallying for or against the legalisation and acceptance of the plant, the fight will not be over soon.
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