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The Delhi High Court on Friday sought to know about the current position of law on the use of cannabis and why it was criminalized in 1985 on a plea seeking legalization of the use of cannabis in the country and challenging various provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985.

Acting upon a plea filed by Great Legalisation Movement India Trust, a bench of Justices G S Sistani and Jyoti Singh asked them to give the position on the use of cannabis in the rest of the world. It also sought to know about the change the petitioner would want in the country by legalizing the use of cannabis.

Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Advocate Arvind Datar and Advocate J Sai Deepak contended that the treatment of cannabis at par with other harmful and lethal chemicals is arbitrary, unscientific, unreasonable and hence unconstitutional.

They said that cannabis cannot be treated at par with opium and there is no comparison between the two substances. Following this, the bench said that it would want a detailed picture on the matter and posted it for July 29 for detailed arguments.

According to the plea filed by advocate Avinash Sharma has contended that the Indian Hemp Drugs Commissions which was given the task to enquire into the cultivation of the hemp plant the preparations of the drugs from it, the trade into those drugs, the effect of the consumption upon the social and moral  conditions of the people etc had concluded that the total prohibition of the cultivation of the hemp plants for narcotics and the manufacture and sale of drugs from it is neither necessary nor expedient .

The plea stated that the Centre while passing the NDPS Act failed to take into consideration the medicinal benefits of cannabis which includes its effect as an analgesic, its role in fighting cancer, reducing nausea and increasing appetite in HIV patients.

“Further, cannabis have immense industrial application which include use as a biodegradable plastic, fibres which can reduce the over dependence on cotton and can also be used to produce paper and timber which will help to reduce the deforestation,” the plea read.

“Cannabis seeds contain 33 per cent protein, which is higher than the protein content of most of the edible items,” it added.

The matter would be now heard on July 29.

—India Legal Bureau

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