Cannabis was once a legal and commonly used plant in Malaysia until global pressure and law reforms forced it to be banned. In fact, many Malaysians today who are well over 40 years old will tell you that ganja, marijuana, weed or its scientific name cannabis was so widely used that even the police did not confiscate it during random checks.
Everything was well and good for cannabis lovers until around 1985 when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the Prime Minister of Malaysia at the time announced that Malaysia will commence the “War on Drugs” campaign to abolish the use of illegal substances. This was also practiced in Singapore with hopes that drugs can be completely eliminated from the country. Just nine years earlier on 22nd March 1976, the former Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn launched the National Drug Abuse Prevention Organization (Persatuan Kebangsaan Mecegah Salahguna Dadah) which emphasized on educating the public and preventing the “misuse” of drugs.
Being a new independent country then, our knowledge about drugs was vague and we had to follow the precedent guidelines and laws suggested by other developing countries and the United Nations (UN). Harry J. Anlinger, the First Commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the United States of America (US) was the person who made cannabis illegal and prohibited its use and sale. College Humor made a great video explaining why and how Harry made cannabis illegal here which we recommend you to watch. Without our own scientific research on cannabis and the global pressure for prohibition of cannabis which was placed under “Schedule 1” of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 in Malaysia, the plant was inevitably made illegal similar to all other countries globally.
Its saddens us to realize how we were not the leaders of our own fate and country but merely puppets who had to follow the waving wrists of supreme power. It is this realization which sparked the flame within Mrs. Intan Mustika a.k.a. Yuuki Setsuna in 2008 to form her own movement for cannabis legalization without the interjection of local or foreign “powers”. At that time, Mrs Intan had a well-paying job and was living with her husband and two young sons. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the year 2008 Mrs. Intan was diagnosed with Hypokalemia (lack of Potassium in the body) which gave her agonizing pain all day long! She was placed on powerful pain killers like Oxycodone (a semisynthetic opioid analgesic derived from Thebaine) and other hospital medications which rendered her useless and bed-ridden for over three months. The medicines blocked her pain but caused her to loose control of her body functions drastically.
As an active person and a loving mother and wife, she could not bare the fact of being bed-ridden while her family was forced to hold up on their own and take care of her. Mrs. Intan spent her days with tears flowing down her cheek every day and night. She was lost and helpless. It was then when a old family friend decided to visit her. He was a recreational cannabis user who knew about the medicinal values of the plant from first-hand experience. After having a long discussion with Mrs. Intan and her husband, they decided to give cannabis a try for relieving the pain she had. At the verge of giving up and having suicidal thoughts, Mrs. Intan thought that trying an illegal plant would not do her more harm than what she was already facing. So, she began consuming cannabis by inhalation of smoke and as “tea”. Almost immediately after consuming cannabis, she reported that her pain was very much manageable and even amazingly, she was not woozy or intoxicated like she was on Oxycodone and the other hospital drugs.
She then began to question everything about cannabis, she read books, met new people, visited foreign countries and kept on searching more and more about the plant so that Malaysians can know the truth about cannabis and its miracle healing effects. In the year 2011, after almost three years of consuming cannabis Mrs. Intan was up and running on her feet just like a normal person. She was so happy and lived a beautiful life with her family. This miracle should not be kept a secret and she decided to start the social media page on Facebook called “Malaysia Medical Marijuana” (Triple-M) which is still going strong today. Triple-M was the first cannabis social media group in Malaysia which shared ground-breaking new scientific studies and true stories of cannabis use and effects from all over the world. Her vision and goal managed to gather the attention of thousands of Malaysians, among who were patients, doctors, lawyers, policemen, students and more. At first, her mission was not accepted with open hands. As a matter of fact, advocating for an illegal substance is an extreme act of crime in Malaysia. And for that, she and her family was caught and imprisoned twice in her lifetime.
Although freedom of speech is part of our national constitution, the voice of those who are considered small and insignificant was rejected nevertheless. But of course, cannabis is the most widely consumed illegal substance in the world and has millions of users. Malaysia which was famous for cannabis grown in Pontian, Johor had a large number of cannabis users who were hiding in the dark as they were afraid of loosing their jobs and life! Still albeit all the dangers cannabis could cause due to the harsh laws, there are many individuals with a strong fighting spirit who advocated for cannabis legalization in their own way. They were scattered all over the country and was not united as a team. After serving time in prison, Mrs. Intan’s fighting spirit only grew even more intense. She knew that victory can only be obtained if everyone was united for one cause and she grew tired of following orders from people who did not respect her opinion or voice. This was when she decided to start a Non-government Organization (NGO) with the purpose of Research, Development and Education of cannabis plants and other psychedelics.
At first, she and her friends managed to form two separate NGO’s called MCare Society and MHIRA between 2015 to 2017. But as time went by, the people who were managing the organizations began to have their own agendas and swayed from her vision. Being a leader, she immediately made the choice to start her own NGO in 2018 with a team of advocates, scientists, doctors, patients, drug addicts and fellow Malaysians who are concerned about forming an self-sustaining organization that would be the epicenter of cannabis and psychedelics research, development and education. Since then, MASA has performed well and is continuing her legacy to become a world-class organization. Just as everything else in this world, her stay on earth came to an end on 4th July 2019, just a few days after the “Support Don’t Punish” campaign held in Kuala Lumpur. Among all the cannabis advocates who fought for cannabis legalization, Mrs. Intan was truly an amazing soul who will be loved and cherished forever.