Indonesia Reverses ‘Medicinal Plant’ Designation for Cannabis

Indonesian officials reversed a decree designating cannabis as a “medicinal plant” after an Instagram post of the original decree went viral. Cannabis remains illegal in Indonesia, even for medical patients, though it was designated “medicinal” for research purposes.

Full story after the jump.

Indonesia’s Agricultural Ministry is reversing a decree from earlier this year that designated cannabis as a “medicinal plant” under the agency’s supervision the Jakarta Post reports. The February decree had put cannabis production under the supervision of the ministry’s horticulture directorate-general.

The decree reversal comes after the document went viral in an Instagram post by the Nusantara Marijuana Network (LGN), a pro-legalization advocacy group.

Cannabis had been listed as a medicinal plant since 2006 in an effort to help farmers shift to other crops. Vegetable and Medicinal plant Director Tommy Nugraha told the Post that the designation allowed farmers to research the plant but that the agency had no legal cannabis farmers on record. He added that the decree would be rescinded after coordination with the National Narcotics Agency, Health Ministry, and Indonesian Institute of Science.

Cannabis is a type-1 narcotic in Indonesia, listed alongside cocaine and opium, under the nation’s 2009 drug law. Possession of a type-1 drug in Indonesia carries a penalty up to 12 years in prison and an 8 billion rupiah (about $550,000) fine. If convicted of producing, exporting, importing, or distributing cannabis, a person can serve up to 15 years in prison and a Rp 10 billion fine (~$688,000). In 2015, a Bali court sentenced an Indonesian and Australian man to one year in prison for sharing a joint, according to the Post. The men, collectively, possessed less than 1 gram.

In 2017, a West Kalimantan court sentenced a man to eight months in jail and a Rp 1 billion (~69,000) fine for cultivating 39 plants and extracting the oil to treat his wife.

The Agricultural Ministry said the reversal is part of Agricultural Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo’s plan to “eradicate drug abuse.” A 2015 survey by the National Narcotics Agency found 63 percent of the nation’s 3.6 million illegal drug users consumed cannabis.

In 2019, Indonesia police seized 11.2 tons of cannabis in enforcement operations.

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