Indonesia’s Constitutional Court has rejected a judicial review of the country’s narcotics law that could have opened the door to medical cannabis legalization.

Three mothers of children with cerebral palsy joined forces with civil society organizations in 2020 to file the judicial review, according to a Reuters report.

The plaintiffs said medical cannabis could be used to treat the children’s symptoms, and argued that not being allowed to use narcotics for medical reasons violates citizens’ constitutional rights to obtain health services and benefit from advancements in science and technology, the news outlet reported.

The court issued a ruling July 20 that said there is insufficient research to justify the judicial review, Reuters reported. The judges added, however, that Indonesia’s government should “immediately” conduct research on the therapeutic use of narcotics, according to the news outlet.

Indonesia’s parliament has indicated that it will undertake a comprehensive study on the benefits of medical cannabis, Reuters reported, but in the meantime, the Southeast Asian nation has one of the world’s most stringent anti-drug laws; the possession or trafficking of large quantities of narcotics is punishable by life imprisonment or death, according to Reuters.

Presiding judge Anwar Usman said in the ruling Wednesday that changing the existing classification of cannabis is the first step in legalizing it for medical use in Indonesia, according to the Business Standard.

Thailand is currently the only Asian country to legalize cannabis; the cultivation, sale and possession of cannabis became legal for all adults last month, and medical cannabis has been legal in Thailand since 2018.

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