History and Legislative Changes Governing Medical Cannabis in Indonesia

History and Legislative Changes Governing Medical Cannabis in Indonesia

Rita Komalasari
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-5652-1.ch012
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This chapter presents the historical context of medical cannabis in Indonesia. First, the author sets out the history of legislative change—how cannabis law has changed over time and Indonesia's cannabis policy-making over the past 200 years. Cannabis that previously was not legal then was legal, and then not legal. Second, the author discusses recent studies regarding the benefits of natural and pharmaceutical-medical cannabis to patients with different conditions in Indonesia. These benefits include cannabis-based medicines for cancer pain, anxiety, and depression. This chapter illustrates the major changes that will be unfolding in countries worldwide regarding cannabis legislation and medical cannabis legalization in healthcare and medicine. This chapter gives an important perspective on the issues regarding the use of medical cannabis from a public health viewpoint. It gives a realistic discussion of the work that lies ahead for government and law enforcement agencies as cannabinoids become more widely accepted by the medical profession.
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The History of Legislative Changes

Colonization, brought about by the Dutch Empire, changed Indonesian living conditions. The Dutch brought the cannabis plant to Indonesia for the first time in India in the 19th century. No data were found on whether native Indonesians were already consuming cannabis before the Dutch. Cannabis use in Indonesia evolved from being eaten, primarily as a food ingredient, to being smoked for pleasure (Stahl et al., 2001). The drug has increased its availability and reached broader coverage, going from previously being used by middle-class citizens to also becoming used by lower-class citizens (Mustafa 2021).

Babor (2010) notes that the temperance movement brought opposition to drugs in the USA and U.K. The drug resistance also reflected the indigenous movement among colonized peoples (i.e., Indonesia). The first prohibition of drugs was the Brussels General Act of 1889 and the international alcohol control treaties (1919), but this prohibition fell gradually into disuse. In the 19th century, temperance workers attempted to limit the drug exploitation of the indigenous population, with the USA taking an active role in combating the opium trade (Babor, 2010).

The first convention on international drug control took place in Shanghai in 1909 and was sponsored by the USA. This convention was followed by setting up control of exports and imports and an International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). The INCB then extended this control to limit drugs to scientific and medical needs. They held the second convention on international drug control in 1961; distribution and sale were made illegal, and they subjected the users to punishment and treatment (Carstairs 2005). They held the third convention on international drug control in 1988, focusing on the perceived negative impact of drugs on economic development, national security, widespread corruption, and money laundering. This convention extends to “possession or purchase,” which is punishable. The USA's international effort is pursued through policy statements asking other lower-income countries to update and ratify the convention on global drug control (Csete et al., 2016). They sought compliance with a promise: if a lower-income government ratifies the convention, it may receive more foreign assistance. This affected lower-income countries, such as Indonesia, that needed economic opportunities and international support (Gordon, 1994). Indonesia adopted the convention on international drug control.

Key Terms in this Chapter

International Narcotics Control Board (INCB): An independent quasi-judicial body that monitors the implementation of international control conventions by the United Nations.

Indonesian Agency of Drug and Food Control: Badan Pengawasan (Monitoring) Obat (drug) Makanan (Food) (BPOM): a government agency of Indonesia which is equivalent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) for public health protection through the control and supervision of prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines, biopharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, food safety, traditional medicine, and cosmetics.

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