Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has suggested that medical marijuana should be made legal in the country to cut drug abuse. She made this suggestion at a Group of Ministers meeting where they were discussing the draft cabinet note National Drug Demand Reduction Policy, which seeks to address drug abuse in the country.
According to the minutes of the meeting, Gandhi pointed out that in “some of the developed countries like the US, marijuana has been legalised which ultimately results in less drug abuse”. She also said that “the possibility of the same maybe explored in India.”
Ahem. Indeed, the possibility of medical marijuana being legalised in India is very easy to imagine. Marijuana, of course, was legal in India until 1985. Around that time, the US had already begun its ill-fated (and racist) “War on Drugs”, and was putting enormous pressure on countries worldwide to criminalise the use of various psychoactive substances. India actually spearheaded the global movement against this criminalisation, because India was one of the largest producers of opiates and marijuana products in the world, until the Rajiv Gandhi government finally succumbed to the pressure and threat of economic retribution by enacting the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in 1985.
So of course, it’s a bit hilarious when thirty years after we were forced by the US to criminalise all forms of marijuana usage in the country, Indian politicians are looking back at the US as an example of a “developed country” that’s using medical marijuana to fight cancer and other illnesses.
I don’t know if legalising medical marijuana will help fight drug abuse in the country, or even if marijuana needs to controlled the way other drugs are, but there’s a huge body of research that indicates that legalising medical marijuana would come with a huge number of benefits for people suffering from cancer and other diseases.