MASA is an open organization which accepts members from all walks of life who are interested to do good for people and the country. We believe that every individual on earth is special and that no one should be ridiculed or ignored. Yes, sometimes there are people that lack intellectual capabilities and are less knowledgeable than others when it comes to sharing or making a change in the world. But this does not mean there is no place for them on earth nor does it mean we should abandon them.
This absurd judgmental character can be observed in many Malaysians today. Those who are doing well do not care to help those who are suffering which in turn causes the country and its people to stay stagnant. MASA believes in transformation and our tagline “Live, Love, Enlighten” portrays our approach to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters in Malaysia. Mistakes can be made by anyone, and at times we could end up in a lot of trouble because of them. Take for example the prisons we have in Malaysia today. Originally, the 47 prisons in Malaysia was made to hold 45,000 criminals at maximum capacity. However today we have about 65,222 inmates in jail cramped up in their cells. What is the purpose of these detention buildings? Are the prisoners meant to live their lives in there forever? If prisoners are released, what would their life and future be like? Lets start off by asking ourselves these simple questions and more if you can think of any. Statistics and numbers do not lie and it is obvious that the crime rate in Malaysia and many parts of the world is increasing due to numerous factors, financial crisis being one of them. When we dig down further and find the root cause of delinquency and crime, we can better manage and treat the people who are affected. A good method to transform a person’s to live a better life would be to provide them with essential skills like cooking, sewing, carpentering, or even something simple like how to read. Prisons are overcrowded and useless for the inmates, which is why many prisons in the United States of America are beginning to introduce self-enhancing programs which offer merit points to lower the sentence of convicts.
MASA spoke about this to the former Law Minister, Datuk V.K. Liew who took the matter very seriously. In fact, out of the 65,222 inmates in jail 55% are there for “drug-offence”. That is 35,872 people wasting their lives away behind bars! But who are these drug-offenders? Are they all cannabis users? No! The National Anti-drug Agency of Malaysia (AADK) statistics show that cannabis users only make up four percent (4%) of the 35,872 people caught, while the a whopping 86% are opioid users. Opioids like heroin, morphine and others alike are very dangerous and even deadly for those who use it daily. When we speak to addicts, we find that they are hooked on the substance because they are looking for a way to “feel” better or just to escape reality for a moment. But they are exposed to dangerous drugs like heroin because it can easily be obtained in the black market for a very cheap price. Plus the punishment and prison sentence for being caught with illegal opioid substances is far less by law compared to cannabis which is in “Schedule 1” of the Dangerous Drug Act 1952. Addiction is something that humans can learn to overcome with will power. All of us, including you and me are addicted to some kind of substance or habit which usually goes unnoticed unless it starts to harm the mind or body. The general dependence rate for coffee based on DSM-IV criteria is about 30% while sugar is found to be more addictive than cocaine! This means that life threatening addictions could be avoided if we educate and direct users to healthier options. Cannabis dependence rate is at about nine percent (9%) which is significantly lower than coffee.
Cannabis contains over 400 different active compounds which vary in every strain like Cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabinol (CBN), the infamous Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) which is the culprit for users getting “high”, and many more. All of the active compounds in cannabis is 100% safe and naturally reacts to the endocannabinoid system to regulate bodily functions. Because the endocannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 are found all over the body, the healthy homeostasis it provides can help people treat diseases and even recover completely. Prohibition has thwarted our efforts to study the plant anywhere in the world which made people judge the plant based on theories and rumors shared by people whose minds were poisoned by constant brainwashing done by the media. “Reefer Madness” the movie was one of the methods the government of the United States used to influence the population who at that time only had the newspaper, radio and television to receive information from. Many were still illiterate and did not bother looking into books and ancient texts for the truth about cannabis use. They rather just follow the government and avoid being thrown into jail like how the Mexicans and Africans were. Imagine, even in the digital world today when the internet has broke barriers and provided every individual the power to receive information at their fingertips, we still face major hurdles to get a cannabis clinical research study started!
In 2015, Harish Kumar had drafted a clinical study proposal which was planned to be completed in University of Malaya (UM) and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). The proposal was very clearly written and prepared with the supervision and guidance of five (5) field experts in Malaysia and Australia. Preliminary trials using cannabis to treat depression in Sprague Dawley rats conducted by Professor Aris Moklas in UPM (2011) showed amazing results! So much so that Prof Aris and other experts like Dato’ Dr. Andrew Mohanraj signed-up with MASA to start the human clinical trials in Malaysia. Sadly, the previous government under Barisan Nasional (BN) did not bother to listen to any patient, researcher or person who wanted the cannabis plant to be reviewed. Despite all the setbacks, MASA kept on pushing the ministers and government to take action on such a serious matter that could help improve the lives of millions. During that time, our neighboring countries like India and Thailand began research on cannabis that gave them actual localized results to assess and take action on for their nation and people. A wise move by the leaders, as within three years they are already growing and selling cannabis products all over their nations which contributes a large percentage to the Gross Domestic Produce (GDP) and economic growth. So if you are ever in doubt of cannabis, please do take out your smartphone or smart-device and start to check the facts and figures which is freely available online.
Once you understand what cannabis is and what it does you will surely question, why are people being thrown in jail and hanged for such a plant? Greed has clouded the truth from innocent people for too long. Our founder Mrs Intan Mustika herself was arrested twice in her lifetime and had to endure the hardship of being a convict. Her experience together with hundreds of other MASA members who were incarcerated made us understand the value of life and righteousness even more deeply. While Mrs. Intan was behind bars, she contemplated a plan for MASA to meet the Prime Minister of Malaysia to explain the dire situation faced by the “common” people. Most of our lives we only see our immediate reality and are not bothered to stop and help those in need. This was the motivation for MASA, to become an organization which places people first and not greed. After being released from prison, Mrs. Intan and MASA team members quickly got back to work and advocated for cannabis research to prove or disprove a long debated question, is cannabis safe to be made legal? Mrs. Intan and MASA are highly respected by our counterparts across the globe who helped us advance further in the scientific, legal, business, social and overall development of cannabis. We had the privilege to meet amazing people along the way who remain great friends to this day.
Our travels equipped us with more facts and figures, an arsenal we felt great enough to convince the leaders of Malaysia. Since 2015, we have been in and out of minister offices discussing about cannabis and decided to meet the father of the new nation, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 2016 for his opinion and advise. The meeting went well and he left us with a few words of advise. Still, no progress was made during the BN government ruling. MASA kept on visiting Tun Dr Mahathir and even presented the book “Human Evolution and Cannabis” written by Harish Kumar to him in 2017. Then, after the turmoil that shocked the nation in 2018, Tun Dr Mahathir was elected the 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia! Prior to the election, we met him at the “Wawasan 2020” forum in Cyberjaya where Tun Dr Mahathir gave his word that he will support the clinical trials proposal and being the great soul that he is, MASA was presented a supporting letter from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) that requests the Health Minister to consider and give support to the cannabis clinical trial proposal. After receiving the letter, MASA is still waiting for permission to conduct the human clinical trials in Malaysia so that the results following the local demographics can be analyzed. Our goal is to complete the clinical trials to treat Major Depression using cannabis so that the stigma behind cannabis can end without extra effort. At the same time, this research which is based on Harish’s book will shed light onto the less understood but highly important effects of THC to the mind and body. This includes evidence on how the “high” feeling from cannabis is actually a natural shift of brain waves unlike alcohol and other substances that intoxicates people differently and is banned by religion.
To conclude this article, we again would like to stress the importance of using positive and constructive methods to resolve issues that are of constant debate. As the saying goes, do not pour fuel onto fire. We will only do more damage to the society and give birth to more criminals if we continue to oppress people who are in need of medical attention and psychological guidance. The whole world is changing, our nation’s father has given his blessings, so what is holding us back from starting clinical trials?