Cannabis in Malaysia – Laws, Use, and History

Malaysian cannabis laws are among the toughest in the world. Prison sentences and fines are common if you’re found in possession of cannabis, and until recently, the death sentence was in place for cannabis-traffickers. However, in 2018, the Malaysian government discussed the possibility of legalising it for medical purposes in the future.

    • Capital
    • Kuala Lumpur
    • Population
    • 32,869,000
    • CBD Products
    • Illegal
    • Recreational cannabis
    • Illegal
    • Medicinal cannabis
    • Illegal

Cannabis laws in Malaysia

Can you possess and use cannabis in Malaysia?

Malaysian law is notoriously severe for those caught possessing or using cannabis. If you’re caught with up to 20 grams, you may be given three to nine lashes (a form of corporal punishment). For up to 50 grams, it’s likely that you’ll be sentenced to five years in prison and given a fine of up to RM20,000.

If you’re caught with 200 grams or over, this is classified as drugs trafficking by the Malaysian Law Dangerous Drugs Act up until 2018, offenders ran the risk of being given the death penalty (which was carried out by hanging) but this has now been scrapped. Even so, it’s still probable that you’ll be given a life sentence. 

Given the severity of the laws in place, it is inadvisable to risk using cannabis in Malaysia. Even if you’re originally from another country and are only visiting, you are still subject to local laws.

Can you sell cannabis in Malaysia?

As you might imagine, it is also illegal to sell cannabis in Malaysia. Any activity that is regarded as ‘drug-trafficking’ faces stiff punishment, such as life imprisonment and a hefty fine. As indicated above, being found with as little as 200 grams is regarded as evidence that you intended to supply to others.

Can you grow cannabis in Malaysia?

Even growing a single cannabis plant in your home can result in a life prison sentence. However, while personal use is still viewed as a criminal offence, the Malaysian government have been openly exploring the option of reintroducing industrial hemp production into the country.

In 2018, the government briefly discussed the medicinal value of cannabis, with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad suggesting that the law regarding its cultivation would be reviewed. Experts predict that introducing industrial hemp for medical purposes would be a challenge, given the strictness of Malaysia’s current cannabis laws.

Is CBD legal in Malaysia?

CBD oil is illegal in Malaysia. Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahman emphasised in 2018 that CBD oil was listed as an illegal substance under the Dangerous Drug Act, and that penalties were in place for those selling or distributing it.

Can cannabis seeds be sent to Malaysia?

It is illegal to send cannabis seeds to Malaysia. This includes mailing them in the post from other countries. Being found in possession of cannabis seeds can incur a fine or prison sentence.

Medicinal cannabis in Malaysia

Despite the country’s tough stance on cannabis, the Malaysian government has been exploring the option of legalising it for medical use.

In 2015, the controversial case of Muhammad Lukman made the national newspapers. Lukman, aged 29, was given the death sentence for possessing and distributing cannabis oil (which contained high THC levels). His patients claimed that Lukman was supplying small dropper bottles of the oil for $10 via a Facebook page, and that he had given away bottles to those who couldn’t afford to pay for them.

Since his imprisonment, some politicians have requested that he be pardoned, as he distributed the cannabis oil to provide medical benefit to others.

Muhammad Lukman’s case resulted in a public outcry, with thousands of people signing a petition, demanding that the government should review his case. Nurul Izzah Anwar, a notable Malaysian MP, declared that it was a “miscarriage of justice”.

At present, all forms of medicinal cannabis remain illegal in the country. However, the growing pressure of public opinion combined with other South-East Asian countries legalising it (such as Thailand) may encourage the Malaysian government to amend the law.

Dr Xavier Jayakumar, the Minister for Water, Land and Natural Resources, recognised that it would take “a bit of encouragement and convincing” to make cannabis production legal. He also stated that he believed it could be “a controlled item that can be used by the Ministry of Health for prescription purposes.”

In a recent survey, 40% of Malaysian people wanted to see cannabis legalised for medical purposes. 57% believed that the substance had medicinal value.

Industrial hemp in Malaysia

At present, it is illegal to grow any type of cannabis in Malaysia. This remains the case even if it’s industrial hemp and will be used for practical purposes only, such as building materials, rope or fabric production.

Malaysia’s political parties and cannabis

Malaysia’s current government, which is led by the coalition party PH (Pakatan Harapan), have so far adopted a more liberal attitude to cannabis than their predecessors. The Prime Minister and Health Minister have been in talks with Malaysian and Indian researchers, regarding a project to explore medicinal cannabis’s ability to ease depression. They also scrapped the death penalty for cannabis-trafficking.

Despite this development, most political parties in the country adopt a hard-line approach regarding cannabis possession and use. As such, it seems unlikely that recreational use will be legalised any time soon.

Good to know

If you are travelling to Malaysia (or are a resident), you may be interested to know the following:

  • Notable Malaysian people are currently in prison because of their advocation of cannabis use – such as Mohd Zaireen Zainal, the head of Gerakan Edukasi Ganja Malaysia. His group seeks to raise awareness of the medical benefits of cannabis.
  • The NCID (Narcotic Crimes Investigation Department) in Malaysia seized a record RM350m of drugs in 2018. This is the highest amount since their formation in 1996.
  • Cannabis restrictions date back to the 1950s (before the country’s independence from the UK).

Cannabis history

It’s believed that cannabis has been cultivated in Malaysia for centuries. There’s not much evidence to prove exactly what the ancient Malay people used it for, but it seems likely that the plant was used for practical purposes, such as woven fabrics or food. Historians also believe that it was valued for its ability to relieve asthma in rural parts of the country, and that Arab traders were using it as early as the 8th century BC.

Cannabis experienced a boom in Asia in the late 19th century, when the trade of narcotic substances took off in earnest. In the 1960s and 1970s, the arrival of soldiers fighting in the Vietnamese war, and backpackers, further fuelled the cannabis market.

The country’s laws have tightened considerably since then, and for many years, the death penalty was given for possession of even relatively small amounts of cannabis. However, the government’s stance seems to be becoming more liberal, with ministers exploring the option of cultivating it for medical use.

Cannabis usage in Malaysia

Due to the country’s strict laws, cannabis usage isn’t widespread in Malaysia. National Anti-Drugs Agency statistics suggest that numbers of users are shrinking; with 1,919 people having been caught using cannabis in 2014, and only 1,066 in 2017.

The vast majority of drugs users in the country are male. When asked why they had tried drugs in the first place, a significant number claimed it was because of peer pressure. Others cited curiosity or stress as reasons.

Young people’s attitudes to cannabis in Malaysia

Many Malaysian people have a negative perception of recreational cannabis and don’t want to see it legalised. The exception seems to be among students and according to one source, cannabis is readily available on campus, despite the risks involved.

KL Narcotics Chief ACP Wan Abdullah Ishak commented: “Marijuana is often brought in on small fishing boats through remote mangrove forests, so tracking them down is very difficult.” It arrives into the country from Thailand or Indonesia and is then distributed via a peer-to-peer network.

The implications of the scrapped death penalty

Until recently, if found in possession of 200 grams or more of cannabis, it was likely that you would be sentenced to death in Malaysia. The strict laws even decreed that the burden of proof didn’t fall on the prosecution – it was up to the accused to prove that the cannabis wasn’t theirs.

As a result of these tough laws, the majority of inmates in Malaysia are in prison on drugs charges. This equated to nearly 75% of people on death row.

Now, the Malaysian government have got rid of the death penalty. This leaves many people wondering if this marks the start of a more lenient attitude towards drugs-related offences.

Will cannabis be legalised in the future?

At present, it’s entirely possible that cannabis will be legalised for medical use in Malaysia. Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Book Chye declared that if firms could prove the medical benefits of cannabis, then legalisation could be an option. He called for companies wishing to enter the medicinal cannabis market to submit dossiers, to enable the Malaysian government to examine the evidence.

Chye also added that the data submitted must be in-line with products planned for use in the country. “Sometimes,” he said, “the studies conducted used different dosage for different indications. If we want to use it as a medicine, there must be a standard in the preparation and dosage aspect.”

And recreational use? Given Malaysia’s severe penalties for possession and usage, it seems unlikely that it will be decriminalised any time soon. As such, it’s highly inadvisable to purchase or use cannabis in Malaysia under any circumstances.

  • Disclaimer:
    While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide legal advice, as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

Comments

32 thoughts on “Cannabis in Malaysia – Laws, Use, and History”

    1. You may come from a country where weed is legal or at least decriminalized and like to have your “smoke”. Don’t even think about getting from the streets because the Cannabis laws here are still kind of harsh.

  1. hi…thanx for the nice article….really good one…im from malaysia and i agree with what u said….ive been a user for about 5 years non stop now, on average i smoke for 250-300 days per year…its always brick weed we get here…and the potency may differ from bad schwag that will cause pulsing headache , to a really nice top of the mids brick with great smell, resin, and full body high experience…yet, all are packaged in compressed bricks…

    now in 2014, we have seen some kush buds been passing around, but thats very very very rare…and expensive….another thing is that some are selling space cakes and cookies, meaning cannabis infused edibles, some are selling part time from home, and some are selling openly in public…..the edibles sold in malaysia are better than the brick weed, as i have experienced a lot of times….the high last for hours and hours….pure fun….and no one will know that u are buying or eating pot cookies in malaysia…haha….

    my friend even smoked hash one time, from a couple friend visiting from abroad…
    and pot paraphernalia are getting more and more common being sold in public, mainly in late night bazaars and some malls…..from acrylic to glass merchandise are available here in malaysia…and no one seem to be bothered by this….u can buy a glass bong in KL and no one will suspect u anything….

    so, lastly, i just wanna give a shout out to any potheads coming to visit my malaysia, afraid not, and just be careful…dont buy from someone u just met, or even worst, dont buy from the streets….make some connections and friends first….dont be too desperate and when u do decide to buy, dont ever buy more than rm50 worth of brick weed. rm50 will get u around 10grams to 20 grams….enough to roll about 20 minimum fat spliffs….keep in mind that if u caught with 200g (approx rm700) of weed, it means death penalty….rm50(20grams) means just a night in the lockup and bribing the cops from rm2000 to rm 10000…usually rm2k….

    peace out..

  2. The herb in KL is always brick and sometimes just awful and moldy. Its disturbing to find that the weed laws are so strict and causes the qulility to be next to none. A reform of the marijuana laws is badly needed in Malaysia. Poverty is struck all over the country and this plant could be a cash crop for many farmers. It not only provides medicine, but also food, clothing, and even fuel. Overreaction of the plant has caused it to be looked at as a dangerous drug and it isn’t even remotely dangerous. The most dangerous thing about the plant is getting caught with it.

    1. And you think Big Pharma is going to just sit back and let that happen? Hell no, they won’t.

    2. So it’s a big NO NO for buying seeds online and growing the plant for personal use then.. Damn

  3. A very helpfull article here.do more please

    Malaysia, : Blunt smoking is way more harmfull and dangerous than smoking a roll of cannabis. So please, legalize it. Thanks.

    ImmaSarawakians.

  4. Tsunamikana

    Great article and spot on. Apart fro GENGGAM, there are many other groups advocating Medical Cannabis treatment. A quick search on Facebook will lead you to 5-6 pages of such activity. We get brick weed, not knowing the strain, content or source. Never buy from street sellers.. you’re being watched. Make friends.. it’ll be a lot more fun.

  5. Very good article.
    Pray we succeed in getting the Malaysian Government and all governments of this planet to see the goodness of ganja and at least decriminalise it for medical research for a start and later legalise it totally. Hey! Alcohol is legal and that after all religions forbid its consumption and the effects are terrible. Ganja is good for humans!!! Wake up everyone. It is pure gift from The Almighty and not man made. Pray we succeed. Salam and best regards. SORAK!!!

  6. Hi Seshata,

    You are a good writer. I am a special needs teacher and carpenter, and believe that marijuana could help ADHD if properly managed.

    I am also a writer, and putting together a manuscript about the demonization of cannabis. I have a minor thyroid issue, but control anxiety and keep my mood stable with cannabis. These days I vaporize it, and give the residue to a friend, as it still has plenty of THC left. I’ve been growing my own for almost 30 years, small time.

    Would it be possible to use some of your good work in the manuscript? Of course it would be referenced as being from you and SensiSeed.

    Best Regards,

    D. Farang

    1. Hi D. Farang,
      I’m very interest in the subject you’re writing as i felt can relate to it. Please update me when you decided to publish it. Thank-you.

    2. Hey wow could you give me some pointers on how to grow and also update me on your manuscript.

      1. My friend leukimia, and otners friend jantung berlubang, what to solution?

    3. Kiran Sidhu

      Im dignosed by cancer some 2weeks back n was told d young leaves of cannabis r actually an anti oxidants that can beat d cancer cells… m actually looking at it for treatment purposes… any idea if its legal to.plant a plant for treatment purpose.. kindly emsil me…

  7. it’s okay to smoke as long as you do it privately and indoors or in less populated and less risky areas..
    Rm50 can get you around 10g of weed( which is taken from the brick weed too)

    Every 2g of weed cost about rm10 to put it in a simpler way.
    have fun and enjoy your day..
    remember to smoke up but also be safe..
    Rm50 worth of weed won’t do any harm as you can easily bribe yourself out from the cops.. and Rm50 worth of stuff is more than enough to get high..
    Have fun!

  8. I have been smoking Marijuana on and off like 2 times a month since december last year from my home. i had diarrhea for a month due to work stress. Marijuana really helped me to overcome my anxiety and my stomach got better. The police raided my house and found only few buds of finished joint. They claimed it 3.0gram and i doubt its less than 0.1gram,. I’m charged under section 6 and they locked up for 5 days. Im bailed for RM2500 and i now awaits court case. They also charging me for urine which requires another court case. And they refuse to settle outside the balai.
    While i was in the lock up, i met few young boys age between 20-26 caught for the same reason but i was informed by them that the police added their marijuana possession from 2.0Gram to 6Gram and they paid penalty between 1500-2000RM. I believe that the GOVT is trying to collect as much as money for election as we all aware the govt has no money to the country. . I rather smoke herbs than consuming those pharmaceutical drugs. So guys please be very careful smoking Marijuana

    1. Are you smoking in a rented house? Or have you been selling before you got caught? Because to be honest police don’t simply raid your house of you just consume. It’s not easy to have a warrant just cause someone been just consuming small amount of marijuana. They will raid if the person either sell, smoke publicly or whatever to get the attention..

  9. Cannabis used as a pain killer from ancient civilization… Malaysian should held further awareness activities about it. The coming one world concept will be legalize cannabis all over the world… anyhow nice article.

    1. Olivier - Sensi Seeds

      Hi liwan, unfortunately we do not send seeds to Malaysia. Best, Olivier

  10. Has anyone brought a vape pen cartridge through customs/immigration at the Kuala Lumpur airport

  11. Stupid malaysian laws , illegal because the police can make more money with this man. MOST STUPID EVER LAWS IS MALAYSIA! its just a plant from god to us that many benefit but the stupid malaysian police leader block it from legal.

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Author and reviewer

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    Sensi Seeds

    The Sensi Seeds Editorial team has been built throughout our more than 30 years of existence. Our writers and editors include botanists, medical and legal experts as well as renown activists the world over including Lester Grinspoon, Micha Knodt, Robert Connell Clarke, Maurice Veldman, Sebastian Maríncolo, James Burton and Seshata.
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  • Maurice_Veldman

    Maurice Veldman

    Maurice Veldman is a member of the Dutch Association of Criminal Lawyers and one of the Netherlands’ most notable cannabis lawyers. With 25 years’ experience in the field, his knowledge of criminal and administrative law supports cannabis sellers and hemp producers by addressing the inequalities between the individual and the state.
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