Delhi

Govt. has ignored benefits of cannabis, claims plea in HC

Petition challenges NDPS Act that criminalises cultivation and use of the drug

There is not a single document which shows that cannabis is lethal to human, a social cause litigation has claimed before the Delhi High Court in its pursuit to bring an end to various existing laws in India that prohibit and criminalise its use.

Bangalore-based cannabis advocacy group Great Legalisation Movement India, in its petition, has challenged various sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and Rules that criminalise the cultivation, possession and use of cannabis.

Seeks more details

A Bench of Justice G.S. Sistani and Justice Jyoti Singh, which heard the petition on Thursday, asked for more details on the plea, including on the aspect of regulation while raising concerns over rising drug abuse cases.

The Bench has posted the hearing on the petition in late August.

The advocacy group, represented by senior counsel Arvind Datar and advocate J. Sai Deepak, said that the prohibition on cannabis in India happened in 1985, after the passing of the NDPS Act.

“The treatment of cannabis at par with other harmful and lethal chemicals is arbitrary, unscientific, unreasonable and hence unconstitutional,” the petition filed through advocate Avinash Kumar Sharma said.

It argued that various scientific research papers published by the World Health Organisation and the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission (IHDC) (1894) establish its medicinal benefits.

The IHDC had concluded that the total prohibition of the cultivation of the hemp plant and manufacture of drugs derived from it was not necessary, the plea said.

It argued that NDPS Bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 23, 1985, was passed after merely four days of legislative debate. “The issues addressed by the members of Parliament were predominantly restricted to the problem of illicit drug trafficking and drug addiction among the youth,” the plea argued.

Nowhere in the debates was there a discussion on the history of use of cannabis in India, the findings of the IHDC or the effects of cannabis on human health nor was any scientific or technical report relied upon, the petition said.

The plea argued that the government failed to take into consideration the medicinal benefits of cannabis which includes its affect as an analgesic, its role in fighting cancer, reducing nausea and increasing appetite in HIV patients.

Also, cannabis has immense industrial application which include its use as biodegradable plastic, fibres and other items. It additionally said that countries, including U.S., Canada, South Africa and the Netherlands have started legalising the medicinal, industrial and recreational use of cannabis.

Curious case of ‘bhaang’

It is unfathomable as to how there are government-run ‘bhaang’ shops running in this country when the cultivation of cannabis is prohibited under the Act, the plea argued.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 1:26:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/govt-has-ignored-benefits-of-cannabis-claims-plea-in-hc/article28566424.ece

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