The Death Penalty For Cannabis

As California debates the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, and Canada’s Liberals talk about decriminalization, it’s easy to forget what happens to people in other countries when they get busted for pot.

From Malaysia on Sept. 26:

ALOR SETAR, Sept 26 (Bernama) — The High Court here today sentenced two men to death after finding them guilty of trafficking in 2,805 grammes of ganja in Gurun four years ago.

Justice Datuk Zamani A. Rahim handed down the judgement after the defence failed to raise a reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case against factory van driver Rizal Sham Ahmad, 32, and his friend, unemployed Md Fitri Md Saad, 31.

They had been charged under Section 39B(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 with trafficking the drug at a parking lot opposite the Aneka supermarket in Gurun at about 4pm on Feb 7, 2006. The act provides for the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.

From Indonesia on Sept. 28:

Serang District Court held a trial against six defendants which are Armila, Jake, Sofyan, Samad, Zulkarnaen, and Suraidi related to possession of 698 Kg marijuana, confirmed Serang District Attorney Head, Jan S Maringka, SH MH

The prosecutor Andrew Syahputra SH demanded death penalty for the six defendants. He argues that the defendants had intention to sell the marijuana stored in 24 sacks which made them dealer and not user.

A 2010 report by the International Harm Reduction Association called “The Death Penalty For Drug Offences” says more than one thousand people face execution for drug offences each year in 32 countries that retain the death penalty for drug crimes: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei-Darussalam, China, Cuba, Egypt, Gaza (Occupied Palestinian Territories), India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lao PDR, Libya, Malaysia, Myanmar, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Viet Nam and Yemen.

Though we have made some strides at home, opponents of global prohibition obviously have a long way to go.

Hopefully, if Proposition 19 passes in California and legal weed spreads throughout the state (and eventually the country), the governments of other countries will no longer be able to use US pressure as an excuse for murderous drug policies. Prop 19 is bigger than California: the momentum of efforts to bring reform to drugs laws in the Golden State could have a considerable effect in other countries around the globe.

Click here to go to the “World Against Death Penalty For Cannabis” Facebook page.

Click here to find out more about California’s Proposition 19 to legalize cannabis.

Jeremiah Vandermeer is the editor of Cannabis Culture. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Jeremiah Vandermeer
Jeremiah Vandermeer

Jeremiah Vandermeer is Cannabis Culture Chief of Operations and Editor of Cannabis Culture Magazine & Pot TV.