As the Tripura government continues its crackdown on cannabis, a state BJP leader has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking legalisation of the drug across the country for medicinal and industrial purposes.
Prasenjit Chakraborty, former state BJP spokesperson and founder of Janajagaran Mancha, a social service organisation, said in his letter that the country can benefit from proper and scientific application of cannabis, or ‘ganja’.
Chakraborty requested the PM to form a high-power commission to research the subject and tell the government about the benefits of cannabis as a medicinal plant and as raw material in industrial applications.
“I think the government should constitute a national-level regulatory authority to regulate cultivation, production, sale, purchase, transportation and uses of ganja in the country. It would prevent misuse of this precious medicinal plant that came to us as a blessing of nature,” his letter said.
Speaking to indianexpress.com on Wednesday, Prasenjit Chakraborty said: “I completely abide by the government’s decision to crack down on drugs and addiction. But I feel cannabis has much more value to it. This herb has been prescribed in ayurveda for medicinal applications.”
He also requested the PM to amend the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 to permit production, cultivation, sale, purchase and transportation of ganja for medicinal and industrial use, by issuing licences for it.
The BJP leader’s plea said unauthorised use of cannabis — without permission by medical practitioners or in a way harmful to human health — should remain legally banned.
Tripura shares a 856-km international border with Bangladesh, 67 km of which is still unfenced in patches. In 2019, the Border Security Forces (BSF) intercepted Rs 4.86 crore worth of cannabis and Rs. 17.57 worth of yaba (meth) tablets from Tripura’s borders.
Cannabis crackdown intensified after the BJP-IPFT combine came to power in Tripura in March 2018. Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb took charge of the ‘Nasha Mukt Tripura abhiyan’, or a movement against drugs, accusing the erstwhile CPI (M) government of promoted illegal drug trade and cannabis cultivation.
On the issue, Tripura Congress vice president Tapas Dey said cannabis should be legalised to strengthen rural economy, damaged under BJP regime.
“Tripura’s rural economy depends on cannabis and rubber cultivation. The government should have surveyed how much cannabis is consumed here before starting an indiscriminate crackdown. By legalising, the state’s revenue generation will increase. Many states like Uttarakhand have legalised cannabis. We think it is reasonable and it can be considered as a medicinal herb,” Dey told this publication.
BJP spokesperson Dr Ashok Sinha clarified his party’s stand on the issue, saying there are two varieties of cannabis — one mostly used as a narcotic and the other with medicinal properties. “If this is about medicinal use of cannabis, I feel the plea to legalise is reasonable. The government will, of course, decide on it,” Dr. Sinha said.
Tripura Left Front convener Bijan Dhar rubbished the plea as a ‘bogus issue’. He claimed that after falsely blaming communists for promoting cannabis, the BJP is trying to legalise it. “Their (BJP) people are getting caught in cannabis cartels. They earlier blamed the Left Front government, but are now trying to legalise it,” Dhar said.
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