All across Asia the stirrings of cannabis reform are growing stronger – here is a profile of the leading campaigners
The Great Legalisation Movement – Wikipedia (GLM) in India was founded in Bengaluru in 2014 with the aim of legalizing cannabis and hemp production. Last week it filed a case in the Delhi High Court, that is likely to go all the way to the Court of Appeal. In support of Member of Parliament Dharamvir Gandhi’s private bill to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis and opium, the movement held marches in several cities in late 2018. Gandhi and other MPs argue that the ban on cannabis is ‘elitist’ and that the drug should not be treated the same way as harder intoxicants by the law. The GLM has two agendas: to discreetly provide cannabis oil to cancer patients, and to press the government to lift the ban on using cannabis. The GLM uses social media activity and has expanded its reach by recruiting ambassadors in states across India. These ambassadors distribute educational material and talk about the benefits of cannabis among friends or local spheres of influence.
Highland Network is a non-governmental cannabis advocacy group campaigning to legalize recreational cannabis in Thailand. The group describes its role as ‘to spread knowledge about cannabis’ and to ‘make sure that we are always in the public sphere raising awareness and knowledge about cannabis’. Highland Network organizes cannabis think tanks, seminars and innovation, patents and various solutions for cannabis products.
The Korean Cannabinoid Association (KCA) is a non-profit organization that has been pushing for the legalization of medical cannabis in South Korea. KCA President Kwon Yong-Hyun stated in August 2018: ‘The government keeps repeating that there are no clinical studies that can prove the efficacy of cannabis in Korea … Since no institutions have come forth to take this role, our group plans to run a pilot project that will prove cannabis’ therapeutic properties.’
In early 2019, Nadzim Johan, leader of the Malaysian Consumers Association (PPIM), stepped forward in support of legalizing medical cannabis in Malaysia. State-run news agency Bernama quoted Johan, in February 2019, stating that a large number of clinical trials have found medical cannabis to be efficient in pain relief for cancer patients as well as in treating symptoms of a growing list of illnesses: ‘It’s just that we have to look into how far the use of the products can be controlled, and at the same time to carry out more clinical research on the plant and how it can be used as alternative medicine. It’s a huge loss if we refuse to make optimal use of the plant when it has been proven effective in the treatment of various illnesses, including cancer and nerve diseases.’