An Australian national working to legalise the medical use of cannabis in India was arrested by the Mumbai Police outside a posh pub Friday for alleged possession of LSD worth Rs 1.8 crore. The accused, Dr Reza Borhani, 50, runs a firm, Cannabis Health and Sciences Pvt Ltd, which has been pushing for legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use.
The Anti Narcotics Cell (ANC) of Mumbai Police crime branch reportedly received information that a man would receive a large quantity of LSD in Bandra West on Friday and laid a trap outside the popular pub, Hawaiian Shack. An ANC official claimed that an unidentified individual handed over the LSD paper, weighing 39.1 grams and containing 1,551 dots of the potent party drug, to Borhani. Police have valued the drugs at Rs 1.8 crore.
“The accused received the LSD from an associate, who flew to Mumbai from Europe with the drug. We are tracking down the supplier,” said the official. The police said they are investigating how long Borhani has been procuring LSD.
ANC officials have claimed that Borhani supplies the drug to rich and influential residents in Mumbai’s western suburbs. Shivdeep Lande, Deputy Commissioner of Police (ANC), said Borhani was produced in court Saturday and remanded to police custody till November 27.
Norhani is married to Guwahati-based model Tora Khasgir, who won the Best Asian Model award in 2002. She runs the Tora Khasgir Fashion Foundation in Ulubari in Guwahati to groom young aspiring models in Northeast India. The foundation is registered at the same address as her husband’s Cannabis Health and Sciences, which was incorporated in April this year and of which they are the sole partners. Khasgir could not be reached for a comment.
According to its website, the firm aims to “lead the way for the future of medical cannabis use in India, from plantation, extraction, laboratory testing and analysis, scientific research, formulation to international export of its products. As the pioneers in India, we will set the bench-mark in terms of quality and service for others to follow.”
Apart from Borhani, the firm has Goa-based consultant geriatrician, preventive cardiologist and anti-ageing specialist Dr Lenny da Costa and Mumbai-based radiologist Dr Sona Pungavkar as its consultants.
When contacted, Dr da Costa said that Borhani’s arrest was shocking and upsetting. He claimed to have met Borhani only twice over the past year and agreed to come aboard as a consultant on the project on a purely scientific basis. “I came into contact with Borhani a year ago when I was providing alternative cardiac care to his mother-in-law. He also sought me out due to my work in anti-ageing,” he said.
Dr da Costa added that Borhani came across as a “very nice guy”, who cared deeply to provide cannabis-based pain alleviation to Indian patients.
“I was told that he met certain state governments to persuade them to consider using cannabis for cancer treatment. But I had advised him that the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) is already conducting studies in that field, and until the ICMR comes out with its findings, governments would not approve of his proposals,” he said.
Dr da Costa added that Borhani’s efforts are yet to bear any fruit. “I cannot be associated with such a person now,” he said.