No complete ban on cannabis, medical use allowed

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    • The use of cannabis is not completely banned in the country as its medical and scientific use is allowed under the law, the Centre has told the Delhi High Court which refused to advance the date of hearing of the plea seeking to legalize its use on various grounds including medicinal purposes.

    About

    • The petitioner has sought directions to the central government to frame rules permitting and regulating use of cannabis, especially for medicinal purposes.
    • Cannabis consumption: was higher in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim, Chhattisgarh and Delhi than the national average.
    • Empowered the State governments: to permit, control and regulate the cultivation of any cannabis plant, production, manufacture possession, transport, import inter-state, export inter-state, sale, purchase, consumption or use of cannabis for medical, scientific and industrial purposes.
      • The State governments are empowered to license the cultivation of cannabis for industrial and scientific purposes.
    • As per a survey by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment: cannabis and opioids are the next commonly used substances in India, after alcohol and at the national level, one in eleven cannabis users suffered from cannabis dependence.

    What’s CBD?

    • It’s short for cannabidiol, a substance found in both marijuana and hemp plants.
    • It doesn’t make you high.
    • CBD can be made into CBD oil and sold as pills, gels, creams, and other formulas.
    • Some people use CBD to treat pain, seizures, and other health problems.
    • But scientists aren’t yet sure how well it works or if it’s safe over the long term.

     

    Issues

    • Cannabinoids are not a first-line treatment: Cautioned against the huge risk of diversion of cannabis for non-medical use. 
    • Bhang: An edible preparation of cannabis is not controlled under the NDPS Act.
    • It May Affect Your Mental Health: Not everyone’s experience with marijuana is pleasant. It often can leave you anxious, afraid, panicked, or paranoid. Using marijuana may raise your chances for clinical depression or worsen the symptoms of any mental disorders you already have.
    • It May Impair Your Brain: Marijuana can make it harder for you to focus, learn, and remember things. This seems to be a short-term effect that lasts for 24 hours or longer after you stop smoking.
    • Lungs May hurt: Marijuana smoke can inflame and irritate your lungs. If you use it regularly, you could have the same breathing problems as someone who smokes cigarettes.
    • Newborn Might Be Underweight: Mothers who smoke pot while pregnant face a higher risk of giving birth to underweight or premature babies.

    Significance

    • Historic significance: Plant was most likely brought to India by Aryan migrants between 1000 and 2000 BC. It is treated as a sacred plant in the Vedas, considered a source of joy. The Hindu god Shiva is revered as the Lord of Bhang.
    • Countering Covid-19: There are reports to suggest that cannabinoids helped in countering the impact of Covid-19.
    • NDPS Act: The petition has challenged provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act which prohibit the use of cannabis and has contended that the drug has medicinal and industrial benefits.
      • There is no complete ban on cannabis under NDPS Act but can be used for medical, scientific, industrial, horticultural purposes by taking requisite permissions from respective State Governments.
      • Under the NDPS Act, there was a clear distinction between the various parts of cannabis plant, namely the fiber, flower and the seed and does not treat all of them and their derivative equally.
    • Did not violate fundamental rights: The central government stated that the present legal framework regulating the usage of cannabis did not violate Articles 14 (right to equality), 19(1) (g) [freedom of trade], 21 (right to life or other fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
    • Not harmful: There is not a single document which shows that it was lethal to humans and emphasizes the use of cannabis was legal in several other countries.
    • Overall benefits: The legalization of marijuana can help create jobs, battle stress, improve human concentration, resolve medical problems and provide sustainable agricultural incomes, among other things.
    • Country’s cultural fabric: Cannabis is integral to the country’s cultural fabric; its criminalisation leads to needless harassment and stigma.
    • Government stands to benefit: Given India’s production capacity of cannabis, the government stands to benefit in terms of tax.
      • India alone accounted for 6 percent of the world’s cannabis herb seizures in 2016 and even higher quantities in 2017, a 20 per cent increase compared to 2016, as per a report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

    Way forward

    • Erasing the stigma: Legalizing marijuana can help reduce addictive behavior by erasing the stigma around it.
    • No scientific study: However, there is no scientific study yet to conclusively prove that legalizing cannabis leads to a healthier relationship with drugs and substance abuse.

    Source: IE