Indonesia’s move towards Cannabis Regulation
by : Soraya Cassandra – LGN Education Team
Facebook has once again played its role in sparking a movement of liberty, this time in Indonesia. This movement calls for the emancipation of a plant that has been discredited, disgraced and criminalized under a delirious prohibition based on inaccurate, fallacious assumptions, a plant by the name of Cannabis.
It all started when a group of cannabis enthusiasts decided to create a group on Facebook called Dukung Legalisasi Ganja (DLG; Support Cannabis Legalization) in the early months of 2008. By the year 2011, the group has gained up to 42,000 followers before being banned by an unknown party later that same year. With followers up to that great of a number, it was unmistakable that DLG has touched an issue close to the heart of many Indonesians.
In May 2010, DLG held a peaceful rally and distribute leaflets containing objective information on cannabis at the heart of Indonesia’s capital city, Bundaran Hotel Indonesia. This rally was held to commemorate the Global Marijuana March, marked on every first Saturday in the month of May. The rally had not only helped attract spotlight towards the issue of cannabis in Indonesia, but it also united more cannabis activists together. With this momentum in hand, along with the fact that DLG is gone and no proper organization has been created to sustain the cannabis movement, the fight for cannabis legalization continued in the only possible direction that it could.
Under Indonesia’s Constitution Article 35 Year 2009 on Narcotics (Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia Nomor 35 Tahun 2009 Tentang Narkotika), cannabis is classified as Narcotics 1 alongside opium, heroin, and cocaine. The only clearance granted for drugs in this classification is the use of limited amounts for the purpose of scientific and technological development and for diagnostic and laboratorial reagents when granted by the Ministry as recommended by the Head of Food and Drugs Monitoring Agency. Establishing a research foundation was the only platform available for the cannabis advocates, hence no time was wasted to create Yayasan Lembaga Penelitian Tanaman Ganja (Cannabis Research Foundation), which now goes by the name Lingkar Ganja Nusantara (LGN). As a research foundation, LGN maintains legal entity and is protected under Indonesian Law.
The name Lingkar Ganja Nusantara means Circle of Ganja Archipelago in English. The idea behind the name LGN portrays the fundamental nature and vision of the foundation. Lingkar or circle is used to illustrate the culture of cannabis consumption where aficionados would form a circle and pass their ‘spliffs’ around in a manner of shared gratification for the plant’s euphoric calmness. Nusantara or archipelago represents the end-goal of LGN where cannabis becomes properly regulated to create betterment for all Indonesians in the 17,000 islands that make up the nation.
LGN raises the issue of cannabis from Indonesia’s social, cultural, medical, and political aspects. The foundation aims to make cannabis a plant that can be widely utilized for the lives of Indonesian citizens and mankind as a whole. LGN will address this aim by conducting research on cannabis in Indonesia, educating for critical awareness towards the issue, advocating and defending basic human rights pertaining the use of cannabis, and developing a community who cares and cherish the benefits of cannabis.
As stated by the Head of LGN, Dhira Narayana, “Kita adalah pohon ganja yang berbicara – We are the talking cannabis plant. If cannabis can speak, it would declare to everyone everything that we are attempting to convey. Unfortunately for them, they can’t speak. This is why they have exposed to us all their intrinsic values in hopes that we, humans, can help reveal their truths to the world.”
On April 23rd, 2011, LGN launched its green office at Pulau Situ Gintung, a scenic location in Tangerang surrounded by lush greenery and nature’s serenity. Here, LGN formally introduced itself to the wider community and provided the chance for attendees to share their opinions, inputs and arguments towards the issue of cannabis. At the end of event, LGN released a group of red, green, and yellow balloons holding a banner that says Legalisasi Ganja into the air. This act symbolizes how LGN will continue to spread and socialize objective information on cannabis for all Indonesians across the archipelago. The launching also aimed to celebrate the legendary 420 Weed Day, marked on every 20th of April.
The next step for LGN is to conduct research and participate in the worldwide Global Marijuana March on May 7th, 2011. LGN currently has two research proposals under way, the first with the Faculty of Psychology, Universitas Indonesia, and the second with Rumah Sakit Cipto Mangunkusumo (Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital) and the Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Indonesia. As for the upcoming Global Marijuana March, LGN plans to hold a peaceful rally to increase awareness on the issue and distribute reliable, scientific information about the wrongly-victimized plant to the people of Jakarta.
Having only been established for one year, LGN has accomplished many stepping stones in its early phase. A legal entity has been attained, an office is ready for use, a website is up and running, a mark has been made across communities and in various media, and most importantly, a group of ambitious, passionate, and devoted individuals have gathered to fight for the truth. There is no doubt that LGN will be bruised along its way to cannabis legalization, but the muscle and wits behind the foundation are bold and strong-willed. For a plant that serves as the inner bliss of the human spiritual enlightenment, for a plant that offers the perfect remedy for the most unbearable of illnesses, for a plant that presents itself as nature’s offer towards an industrious endeavor, and for a plant with its inestimable worth for all of mankind, LGN will one day liberate cannabis from today’s senseless suppression.