Indian Cannabis Advocacy Group Challenges Federal Prohibition

Cannabis advocates in India have filed a suit challenging the nation’s federal cannabis prohibition as unconstitutional, arguing that cannabis should be regulated and “reasonably” restricted.

Full story after the jump.

An Indian cannabis legalization advocacy organization is challenging the nation’s cannabis prohibition as unconstitutional, according to a Bar and Bench report. The Great Legalisation Movement India Trust is not seeking to completely deregulate cannabis, rather arguing that cannabis should be regulated and those rules should have “reasonable” restrictions.

The group argues that cannabis is not on par with other more harmful and lethal chemicals and that its status alongside those prohibited chemicals is arbitrary, unscientific, and unreasonable. The group argues that Parliament did not take into consideration the effects of cannabis on human health when it passed the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act in 1985 and mounting evidence shows “…medicinal use of Cannabis can help to reduce the acute health crisis, which the country is currently facing.” The petition pointed to the relief cannabis provides for HIV patients – of which India sees about 82,000 reported cases annually – Parkinson’s disease patients, and that “cannabis is an effective analgesic and helps in cases of chronic pain.”

The Legalisation Movement also argues industrial hemp cultivation would “immensely benefit” the nation’s farmers.

The lawsuit also calls it “unfathomable” that the government runs bhang shops while, simultaneously, outlawing cannabis. In 2004, the High Court in Chandigarh ruled that bhang – a milky, sweet drink laced with cannabis – is not, technically, cannabis but is a “cannabis plant,” according to Legally India.

Legally India explains that bhang is allowed due to a loophole in the 1985 drug law that allows consumption of cannabis leaves and only flower and resin (hash and concentrates) fall under the purview of the law.

The court will take up the case in February.

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