Indonesian moms combat for medical marijuana for his or her youngsters

Medan, Indonesia – When Pika Sasi Kirana was born, there have been no indicators that something was amiss.

A bouncing child weighing 3.4kg (7.5lb), Pika quickly grew into an energetic toddler and, by the point she reached kindergarten, was identical to any of the opposite youngsters in her class. An avid singer, she additionally liked to bop and journey her bicycle within the afternoons, filling her mom Santi Warastuti and father Sunarta with delight as they watched their solely little one thrive.

But when Pika was about 5 years outdated, her well being took a sudden flip for the more serious. The little woman started to vomit repeatedly in school and suffered from fainting spells. When Warastuti, now 43, took her daughter to the physician in Denpasar on the Indonesian island of Bali, Pika was prescribed epilepsy remedy.

Her situation didn’t enhance.

“No one ever actually said the words ‘cerebral palsy’,” Warastuti, who labored as a dressmaker, informed Al Jazeera. “It just showed up one day on her doctor’s notes.”

Following the written prognosis, Pika’s well being deteriorated quickly, with docs seemingly unable to sluggish the progress of the illness or supply any options to make Pika extra comfy.

“Every time I visited a doctor they kept changing the doses or types of medication,” Warastuti mentioned. “Nothing worked.”

Warastuti began to search for different methods to ease the struggling of her daughter, who was unable to do something by herself and now wanted 24-hour care. Finally, she come across an unlikely answer in a rustic recognized for its strict drug legal guidelines: medical marijuana.

Warastuti first heard of medical marijuana when she was working in Denpasar and her European employer informed her how the drug was utilized in Europe and different international locations to ease a spread of sicknesses.

Warastuti Campaigns For The Legalisation Of Medical Marijuana On The Streets Of Jakarta, Indonesia.
Warastuti travelled to Jakarta’s weekly Car Free Day to boost consciousness of her marketing campaign. The placard reads ‘Help, my child needs medical marijuana’ [Courtesy of Warastuti]

When she moved again to her hometown of Yogyakarta within the hope of discovering more practical remedy for Pika, Warastuti met Dwi Pratiwi, one other mom and plaintiff in a Constitutional Court case, who had taken her son Musa to Australia for medical marijuana remedy.

Musa, who additionally had cerebral palsy, has since died. Yet, by attending to know him Warastuti was capable of see firsthand how medical marijuana may assist these with the dysfunction — that impacts the flexibility to move and preserve steadiness — by serving to ease muscular atrophy and enabling extra comfy sleep.

Research ordered

When Pratiwi prompt that the moms take authorized motion, Warastuti didn’t hesitate.

Their quest to have the drug legalised in Indonesia for medical functions has encountered stiff opposition nevertheless, and on July 20, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court rejected a movement filed by Warastuti, Pratiwi and one other mom whose little one has cerebral palsy for a judicial evaluation of Indonesia’s Narcotics Law of 2009 that prohibits the usage of marijuana for any purpose.

According to Claudia Stoicescu, an affiliate professor in public well being at Monash University in Indonesia, the nation stands in stark distinction to its neighbours in the case of its authorized place on marijuana.

“Thailand legalised cannabis consumption in June this year and in Malaysia cannabis use for medical purposes has been legally regulated since last year,” she informed Al Jazeera.

“In Indonesia, possession of cannabis carries harsh sanctions, including substantial prison time, often in overcrowded and inhumane conditions. These punishments by the criminal justice system against cannabis users are much more detrimental to the health, well-being and quality of life of the individual than the cannabis use itself.”

Warastuti says she will not be stunned the Constitutional Court rejected the moms’ bid to legalise marijuana for medical functions however was happy the decide ordered the Indonesian authorities to conduct additional scientific research into the medical makes use of of marijuana.

“I knew that the legal challenge was going to be rejected, but the ruling has also pushed for research into medical marijuana which we need to appreciate. In Indonesia it is hard for people to accept the legalisation of medical marijuana because they think that cannabis just gets you high, but there are good and bad ways to use it.”

“It is like a knife which is meant to be used to cut things, but can also be used to stab someone and kill them. Yet you can still buy knives everywhere,” she mentioned.

Indonesia classifies hashish as a Schedule 1 substance, following the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, which signifies that it’s categorized as a drug with excessive potential for abuse, no accepted medical use and no secure degree of use underneath medical supervision.

Indonesian Police Destroy Marijuana Plants Discovered In Aceh
Indonesian police destroy unlawful marijuana crops throughout an operation in Seulimeum, Aceh Besar, Aceh province, Indonesia. The nation classifies hashish as a Schedule 1 substance — a drug that has a excessive threat of abuse and no accepted medical use [File: Antara Foto via Reuters]

However, medical researcher Stoicescu says the nation ought to reschedule hashish, one thing the World Health Organization has advisable since 2019.

“Most researchers agree that occasional cannabis use does not lead to health problems for the vast majority of people who use it. The Indonesian government, however, often claims that cannabis plays the role of a so-called ‘gateway drug’ that may lead to involvement in other illegal substances. Researchers disagree on this claim, and no causal relationship has been found between cannabis use and the use of other substances,” she mentioned.

Looking for compromise

According to Eka Prahadian Abdurahman, the department supervisor of the Addiction Recovery Community Association in Medan, North Sumatra, those that are towards legalisation typically argue that the drug could possibly be used for leisure functions.

“The government is still not willing to invest in cannabis research as a medical drug,” he mentioned, “while many overseas studies that have been scientifically proven are also under-utilised by the government in favour of medicines made from natural ingredients other than marijuana.”

Abdurahman, whose association backs legalisation, provides that redrafting the regulation to permit for marijuana for use in medical conditions will not be simple.

It will not be clear how lengthy it’s going to take for the Indonesian authorities to analysis the potential advantages of medical marijuana, and within the meantime, Warastuti says she is considering potential compromises.

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While she has but to consider extra authorized choices, she wish to foyer sooner or later for the federal government to assist fund medical marijuana remedy in different international locations like Australia for Indonesian residents who want to travel there.

She would additionally like the federal government to contemplate permitting people to purchase medical marijuana from different international locations to be used in Indonesia with out fear of prosecution if full-scale legalisation in-country will not be allowed.

Back in Yogyakarta, Warastuti says the Constitutional Court’s choice will not be the top of the highway for her and Pika, who’s now 14.

“I need to try everything to help my daughter and we will fight on and never give up,” she mentioned.

“Maybe it is not my fate to be the one to get medical marijuana for my daughter, but hopefully we have started something, and in the future others will be able to access this medication for their children as a result of my actions.”


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