New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has listed for July 29 a petition filed by a voluntary organisation to decriminalise the use of cannabis in India.
Petitioner Great Legislation India Movement Trust has challenged the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985 and Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Rules, 1985, which prohibit and criminalise the use of cannabis or industrial hemp and prescribe restrictions on activities related to it.
It wanted directions to the Centre to amend the Act since it violates Articles 14, 19, 21, 25 and 29 of the Constitution. In the hearing this week, the Centre pressed for impleading the Department of Revenue as the NDPS Act is a product of the Finance Ministry.
This is not the first time the courts have been approached seeking to decriminalise the use of the plant. In 2015, the Bombay HC dismissed a PIL seeking to decriminalise the use of cannabis.
More recently, a petition was filed in the Himachal Pradesh High Court seeking to remove restrictions on the cultivation, processing and use of industrial and medical hemp in the state.
The petitioner claims to be a registered trust which has been “at the forefront” of the movement to decriminalise the use of cannabis and raise awareness with respect to its medicinal, industrial, ecological, economic and other benefits.
It has clarified that it is not seeking to completely de-regulate the use of cannabis. However, any regulation should be consistent with the requirement of “reasonable restriction”.
It is the petitioner’s case the treatment of cannabis at par with other harmful and lethal chemicals is arbitrary, unscientific and unreasonable. Relying on various scientific research papers and reports, the petitioner has highlighted the medicinal properties of cannabis. “...medicinal use of Cannabis can help to reduce the acute health crisis, which the country is currently facing..
(It) is useful in 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 average eight lakh people die from cancer every year. Further, about 82,000 cases of HIV infection are reported every year.”
It is claimed cannabis is an effective analgesic and helps chronic pain, improving the motor disability scores of persons suffering from Parkinson disease.
The petitioner has also listed several industrial applications of the Cannabis plant. “Industrial hemp (cannabis) is an agricultural commodity 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.”