The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Centre on a petition challenging various sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and Rules that criminalise the cultivation, possession and use of cannabis.
The HC put the petition filed by Bangalore-based cannabis advocacy group, Great Legalisation Movement India, for further hearing on February 5.
The plea has highlighted that the prohibition on cannabis in India took place 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 Organization and the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission (IHDC) (1894) establish its medicinal benefits.
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 the Parliament were predominantly restricted to the problem of illicit drug trafficking and drug addiction among the youth,” the plea said.
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 also argued that the government had failed to take into consideration the medicinal benefits of cannabis that 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 like U.S., Canada, South Africa and Netherlands have started legalising the medicinal, industrial and recreational use of cannabis.
It is unfathomable as to how there are government-run bhang shops running in this country but the cultivation of cannabis is prohibited under the Act, the plea said.