Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi has suggested legalising marijuana, a psychoactive drug, in India for medical purposes on the lines of the practice adopted by some developed countries like the US to curb drug abuse.
The suggestion was made by Ms Gandhi at a meeting of a group of ministers (GoM), which examined the draft cabinet note National Drug Demand Reduction Policy, according to the minutes of the second meeting.
The GoM approved the draft national policy with minor modifications suggested in the meeting. She informed that in “some of the developed countries like the US, marijuana has been legalised which ultimately results in less drug abuse”.
“The possibility of the same maybe explored in India”, she added.
Also, she said, “Marijuana should be legalised for medical purposes, especially as it serves a purpose in cancer”.
During the meeting of the GoM, which was chaired by home minister Rajnath Singh, she also stressed on the need for regulating the sale and availability of pharmaceutical drugs such as codeine cough syrups and inhalants among others, which are being abused.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed the GoM to examine the draft policy for drug demand reduction which seeks to address the problem of drug and substance abuse.
Referring to the national survey on drug abuse, conducted by the ministry of social justice in collaboration with AIIMS, which covers students, transgenders and sex workers among others, Gandhi said children especially those living in and around major railway stations should also be covered.
On the issue of legalising drugs in the country, the social justice and empowerment secretary G. Latha Krishna Rao said, “It may not be appropriate to legalise such drugs in view of the large population and low level of literacy in the country”.
As per the document, minister for chemicals and fertilisers Ananth Kumar observed that drugs were easily available outside schools and colleges and said that an action plan needs to be drawn to create awareness and sensitise students against drug abuse.