Malaysian singer Yasin Sulaiman, who was arrested last month for possession of more than 200 grams of cannabis at his home, has been denied bail and will now face death penalty if convicted, the South China Morning Post reports.
Famous in the 1990s for composing Islamic devotional and spiritual music, Yasin was charged with drug trafficking on 31 March after 17 cannabis plants along with 214 grams of dried plant material were discovered at his home by officials. He also suffers from bipolar disorder.
Before his trial began, the 47-year-old singer-composer had reached out to lawmaker Syed Saddiq, who has led a bipartisan parliamentary caucus of seven lawmakers to study the use of medical cannabis.
Following Yasin's arrest Saddiq had visited the former's family and shared on Facebook a social media post made by Yasin back in October 2021, where the singer had thanked the lawmaker for his advocacy in medical cannabis. The singer wrote, "medical cannabis has so many medical benefits, especially for people like me with chronic stress, insomnia, loss of appetite, depression and focus deficiency".
He described cannabis as his "remedy" which "for 20 yearsâ¦I've been trying to get the right medication for my problems," further adding, that the remedy is one such that, "the society in this era prevents me from reachingâ¦out of ignorance".
Saddiq in his post brought to light the recommendation of the WHO to the UN on the reclassification of medical cannabis as a less dangerous drug and wrote that this "was a cry for help, not only for Yasin but for others who have been suffering and need medical cannabis as treatment" adding that, "the law banning medical cannabis is outdated."
Last week the Medical Cannabis Caucus and Prime Minister of Malaysia Ismail Sabri Yakob had a meeting to discuss in detail the profit-making potential of the plant and to bring to public notice the subject of legal action against medical cannabis users, which according to a statement by the caucus had ended on a positive note and now the cabinet will begin to analyze and review the subject at hand.
The public debate surrounding medical cannabis and its usage has also caught the eye of the Malaysian Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who recognized the general public opinions and stated that "his ministry has been consistent in practicing evidence-based policies" and that the Health Ministry is awaiting submissions from any formal study dedicated towards the medicinal usage of CBD or cannabidiol from "industry or academia". CBD is a compound in cannabis that has been recognized especially for its stress relieving properties.
It is not uncommon in Malaysia to issue a death warrant to convicts associated with drug smuggling and its extensive possession. More than 200 grams of cannabis possession is also known to carry a mandatory death sentence in the Malay country. As per official figures, out of 478 individuals with capital punishment fifty per cent were convicted of crimes associated with drugs.