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KUALA LUMPUR: Issues pertaining to approval of the use of cannabis for medical purposes in the country require in-depth research and discussion, including from the aspect of controlling the use of the substance, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said.

He said this is taking into account the number of drug addicts among young people, including in rural areas, which is increasing and reaching hundreds of thousands today.

“Have patience, we need to look into this very carefully, we have to remember that as soon as we legalise (cannabis) on the back of strong reasons such as for medical purposes and necessity, control could prove difficult... I am not saying that I have a hardline view on the matter, but I have proposed we open this for discussion and look into the implications.

“For those who support or object, let’s have an overview in terms of its implication and then decide whether to legalise some parts or completely allow it, or continue with what we are practising now,” he said when answering a question from the floor at the “Meet Anwar’ youth dialogue at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre today.

Anwar said Federal Narcotics Criminal Investigation Department director Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay had also given him an overview of the serious problems being dealt with in relation to the issue of drug abuse in the current situation.

Thailand is the first Southeast Asian country to allow the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Last August, then Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, during a working visit to Thailand, said the government will take a stand on the use of cannabis for medical purposes, in addition to looking at the legal framework related to it.

Meanwhile, in response to a question on whether there are any plans to review Touch ‘n Go’s monopoly in the road and transport system, Anwar said the matter might be considered.

“Touch ‘n Go has been in operation for more than two decades, (but) there has not been developments or progress in the system...I think you are right, we will have to reconsider it,” he said.

The dialogue, organised by the Anwar Ibrahim Club (AIC), was moderated by celebrity Amelia Henderson and participated by over 5,000 youths, who took the opportunity to ask the prime minister questions on a range of issues. - Bernama