Indonesian mothers fight for medical marijuana for their children | Health News

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 lively 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 pleasure as they watched their solely youngster thrive.

However when Pika was about 5 years outdated, her well being took a sudden flip for the more severe. The little woman started to vomit commonly 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.

“Nobody ever really mentioned the phrases ‘cerebral palsy’,” Warastuti, who labored as a dressmaker, advised Al Jazeera. “It simply confirmed up in the future on her physician’s notes.”

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

“Each time I visited a health care provider they saved altering the doses or forms of remedy,” Warastuti mentioned. “Nothing labored.”

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. Lastly, she stumble on an unlikely answer in a rustic identified for its strict drug legal guidelines: medical marijuana.

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

Warastuti campaigns for the legalisation of medical marijuana on the streets of Jakarta, Indonesia.
Warastuti travelled to Jakarta’s weekly Automotive Free Day to boost consciousness of her marketing campaign. The placard reads ‘Assist, my youngster wants 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 Courtroom case, who had taken her son Musa to Australia for medical marijuana remedy.

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

Analysis ordered

When Pratiwi advised 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 nonetheless, and on July 20, Indonesia’s Constitutional Courtroom rejected a movement filed by Warastuti, Pratiwi and one other mom whose youngster has cerebral palsy for a judicial overview of Indonesia’s Narcotics Legislation of 2009 that prohibits using marijuana for any purpose.

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

“Thailand legalised hashish consumption in June this 12 months and in Malaysia hashish use for medical functions has been legally regulated since final 12 months,” she advised Al Jazeera.

“In Indonesia, possession of hashish carries harsh sanctions, together with substantial jail time, usually in overcrowded and inhumane circumstances. These punishments by the prison justice system in opposition to hashish customers are far more detrimental to the well being, well-being and high quality of lifetime of the person than the hashish use itself.”

Warastuti says she shouldn’t be stunned the Constitutional Courtroom 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 authorized problem was going to be rejected, however the ruling has additionally pushed for analysis into medical marijuana which we have to admire. In Indonesia it’s onerous for folks to simply accept the legalisation of medical marijuana as a result of they assume that hashish simply will get you excessive, however there are good and unhealthy methods to make use of it.”

“It is sort of a knife which is supposed for use to chop issues, however can be used to stab somebody and kill them. But you’ll be able to nonetheless purchase knives in all places,” she mentioned.

Indonesia classifies hashish as a Schedule 1 substance, following the UN Single Conference on Narcotic Medicine of 1961, which signifies that it’s categorised as a drug with excessive potential for abuse, no accepted medical use and no protected 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 danger of abuse and no accepted medical use [File: Antara Foto via Reuters]

Nonetheless, medical researcher Stoicescu says the nation ought to reschedule hashish, one thing the World Well being Group has really helpful since 2019.

“Most researchers agree that occasional hashish use doesn’t result in well being issues for the overwhelming majority of people that use it. The Indonesian authorities, nonetheless, usually claims that hashish performs the function of a so-called ‘gateway drug’ which will result in involvement in different unlawful substances. Researchers disagree on this declare, and no causal relationship has been discovered between hashish use and using different substances,” she mentioned.

On the lookout for compromise

In line with Eka Prahadian Abdurahman, the department supervisor of the Dependancy Restoration Group Affiliation in Medan, North Sumatra, those that are in opposition to legalisation usually argue that the drug might be used for leisure functions.

“The federal government continues to be not keen to spend money on hashish analysis as a medical drug,” he mentioned, “whereas many abroad research which have been scientifically confirmed are additionally under-utilised by the federal government in favour of medicines made out of pure substances aside from marijuana.”

Abdurahman, whose affiliation backs legalisation, provides that redrafting the regulation to permit for marijuana for use in medical conditions shouldn’t be simple.

It’s not 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.

Whereas she has but to consider extra authorized choices, she want 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 journey 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 worry of prosecution if full-scale legalisation in-country shouldn’t be allowed.

Again in Yogyakarta, Warastuti says the Constitutional Courtroom’s determination shouldn’t be the top of the highway for her and Pika, who’s now 14.

“I have to attempt every thing to assist my daughter and we’ll combat on and by no means surrender,” she mentioned.

“Perhaps it’s not my destiny to be the one to get medical marijuana for my daughter, however hopefully we have now began one thing, and sooner or later others will be capable of entry this remedy for his or her youngsters on account of my actions.”

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