After clearing the legislative branch of government, a private member’s bill to legalize marijuana will be introduced to Parliament during this year’s winter session.
The legalization of cannabis in India has significant governmental support. Maneka Gandhi, India’s Minister of Women and Child Development, made a statement this past August calling for the legalization of medical marijuana. Also in August, the government issued a license to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research for the cultivation of medical marijuana and study of medical marijuana and its application in the treatment of epilepsy and mitigation of chemotherapy-induced side effects.
MP Dharamvira Gandhi is a retired cardiologist and a longtime supporter of legal marijuana. His bill is intended to differentiate between hard and soft drugs in hopes of resolving issues that were not resolved by the 1985 Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, which did nothing to reduce demand for the drug.
“The 30 years’ period of enactment and implementation of NDPS Act has produced results contrary to the desired results,” said Gandhi in November. “Thirty years down the line, where do we stand? The fact of the matter is that the NDPS Act has not only failed in achieving its professed goals, but this war on drugs has delivered results directly opposite to what it aimed to achieve. There can be no better verdict and/or evaluation of such punitive drug laws than frank admission statement of the United Nations Conference on 12th March 2009, admitting that the war on drugs has failed,” he said.
It’s still too soon to tell how the new legislation will perform in the parliamentary process, but Romesh Bhattacharji, the former commissioner of India’s Central Bureau of Narcotics, has spoken in favor of cannabis reform.
If the support behind the bill is any indication, India may be on track to join ranks with the countries that have determined that marijuana prohibition is not the way to go.