A petition has been filed in the Delhi High Court seeking the decriminalization of marijuana. The petition by Great Legislation India Movement Trust was filed through advocates Avinash K Sharma and Ashutosh Nagar. The petitioner is being represented by Senior Advocate Arvind Datar and advocate J Sai Deepak.
The petitioner contended that treating cannabis at par with harmful and lethal chemicals is arbitrary, unscientific and unreasonable. The medicinal properties of the ‘herb’ have also been highlighted. It was submitted, “…medicinal use of Cannabis can help to reduce the acute health crisis, which the country is currently facing.. (It) is useful in the prevention of Cancer and brings relief to the patients who are affected with HIV. The level of relief, which this plant can bring, would become evident from the fact that on an average eight lakh people die from cancer every year. Further, about 82,000 cases of HIV infection are reported every year.” The petitioner contended that marijuana is also an effective analgesic and helps with chronic pain.
The petitioner also elaborated upon the industrial uses of cannabis. It was stated, “Industrial hemp (Cannabis) is an agricultural commodity that is cultivated for use in the production of a wide range of products, including fiberboards and furniture, foods and beverages, cosmetics and personal care products, nutritional supplements, fabrics and textiles, yarns and spun fibers, paper, construction and insulation materials, bio-plastics, bio-fuels, graphene technology and other manufactured goods. Had there been no prohibition on the cultivation of industrial cannabis the farmers can immensely benefit from the cultivation of Cannabis.”
The petitioner also contends that the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 was passed without taking into consideration the positive aspects of the herb and the history of its usage in India. “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 argues. The plea also asserts that it is ‘unfathomable’ that the government is running bhaang-shops in the country while marijuana is banned considering the fact that the content of both is the same.
The petition makes it clear that it does not seek to de-regulate the use of marijuana completely but insists that regulations must comply with requirements of “reasonable restriction”. The matter will be taken up on the 29th of July.
Over the years, the medical, recreational and industrial use of marijuana has become legalized in various western countries including the USA and the Netherlands. In India, marijuana is consumed widely although its officially illegal. Decriminalizing Marijuana might also enable the government with better means to regulate the market more effectively.