As throngs of countries around the world make cannabis reform a priority, India has been relatively silent on the issue until now.
In a recent Group of Ministers (GOM) event, Minister of Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi said that legalizing medical marijuana will help curb drug abuse in the South Asian country.
Gandhi’s comments were made at a meeting regarding the National Drug Demand Reduction Policy. She noted that in “some of the developed countries like the U.S., marijuana has been legalized which ultimately results in less drug abuse [and] the possibility of the same may be explored in India.”
Gandhi’s progressive ideas on cannabis reform go beyond ending drug abuse as the minister is aware of the plant’s many medical properties. “Marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes, especially as it serves a purpose in cancer,” she said.
Marijuana reform has received a small amount of support from Indian government officials in the past. In November of 2016, MP Dharamvir Gandhi introduced a private member’s bill to legalize cannabis by permitting the “authorized and monitored sale of soft drugs.” That particular bill has seemingly stalled.
Previously, in a 2015 conversation with journalist Deeptiman Tiwary, senior parliamentarian Tathagata Satpathy stated that the law banning cannabis was “elitist.” Satpathy added that given the opportunity he would stand up for the repeal of cannabis prohibition in Parliament. Satpathy admitted at that time to smoking marijuana in his “younger days.”
Currently, a cannabis possession charge in India can get the accused up to six months in jail, and illegal production can garner a sentence of up to 10 years.
Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett