In a recent statement issued in the Delhi High Court, the Central Govt. of India clarified that the use of cannabis is not completely banned in India as the law permits cannabis to be used for medical and scientific purposes.
The statement came as a response to a petition filed by the Great Legalization Movement challenging the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985 which prohibit the use of cannabis. The GLM Movement has also contended that the drug has significant medical and industrial benefits.
The petitioner has also sought direction from the central government to frame rules to permit and regulate the use of cannabis, especially for medicinal purposes. It has also sought to declare as ‘unconstitutional’ the provisions in the NDPS Act and Rules that prohibit and criminalize the use of cannabis and prescribe unreasonable restrictions with respect to the activities related to it.
In a response to the petition filed last year, the Centre urged the court to dismiss the petition claiming that it has “adopted a balanced approach on cannabis” by encouraging respective State Governments to permit, control, and regulate the cultivation of any cannabis plant, product production, manufacture, possession, transport, import inter-state, export inter-state, sale, purchase, consumption or use of cannabis (excluding charas) for medical, scientific and industrial purposes”.
The affidavit which was filed by Director, Narcotics Control, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance said, “There is no complete ban on cannabis under the NDPS Act. It can be used for medical, scientific, industrial, horticultural purposes by taking requisite permissions from the respective State Governments.”
“…The state governments are also empowered to license the cultivation of cannabis for industrial and scientific purposes. On similar lines, it may be inferred that the cultivation for industrial or horticultural purposes, as provided in Section 14 of NDPS Act, can be considered by the State Government.”, the affidavit added.
The Centre further submitted that cannabinoids (compounds like CBD and THC) are not a first-line treatment and cautioned against the hug risk of diversion of cannabis for non-medical use.
The Centre’s response also highlighted that under the NDPS Act, there was a “clear distinction between the various parts of cannabis plant, namely the fibre, flower, and the seed and does not treat all of them and their derivative equally.”
“…The seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops have not been included in the definition of cannabis. The Bhang which is an edible preparation of cannabis is not controlled under the NDPS Act.”