Goa govt considering legalising cannabis cultivation, opposition sees red
The Goa government is considering a legislation that will make the cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes a legitimate activity, people familiar with the development have said.
The proposal, which originated in the Health Department has been vetted by the Law Department, but is likely to encounter resistance in the Cabinet as well as from the Chief Minister’s Office and there is no indication that it will succeed in making it to the legislative Assembly that is scheduled to meet in late January.
Speaking to the media, Goa’s Law Minister Nilesh Cabral said that his department has vetted the file from a ‘legal perspective’ after he received it from the Health Department.
According to Cabral only controlled farming of marijuana for medicinal purposes, will be permitted so that the natural drug could be sold to pharmaceutical companies.
“It is on the same ground as how liquor is regulated. If you recall before 1985 there was no ban on this. The NDPS Act was brought by the central government and charas, ganja were added in the scheduled list of banned drugs,” said Cabral.
“Today in several states in India the form of this plant known as bhang is sold over the counter through a licenced establishment like a bar licence,” Cabral said.
The minister who said that he was personally in favour of legalising the cultivation of marijuana, also claimed that he had seen the use of marijuana to cue cancer.
“This plant is originally from India. If it is used for health reasons and not recreational… I don’t see why not. I’ve seen people using it in curing last stage cancer. This is already being officially used in America, Canada Australia so why should our people remain behind. It can be cheaply made available if people are suffering from cancer,” he added.
The Chief Minister’s Office has rejected the suggestion that the Goa government has ‘taken a decision’ to permit the cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes and said that the mere movement of a file didn’t amount to a decision of the government.
The opposition Goa Forward Party has hit out at the government for what it said was the promotion of Goa as a ‘vices hub.’
“The Chief Minister has confirmed that the file has really been moved but that there has been no decision. The meaning of this is that since the file has been moved, there is an intention to do it. They have taken this stop because they want to promote Goa as a vices hub to completely finish the next generation,” Vijai Sardesai, the leader of the Goa Forward Party, now in the opposition, said.
“How will they handle the law and order crisis that will consequently emerge from legalising cannabis cultivation? Who will be the watchdog to ensure that it is for medicinal purposes only? And if the watchdog himself starts accepting bribes to allow it to be pilfered and the young generation gets access to it, the future generations will get access just so that they can fill their pockets,” Sardesai said.
“Will good tourists come to Goa if cannabis is legalised? Or will only the rubbish and drug addicts end up here. Casinos are here. Now you want to bring drugs and next you will want to bring (legal) prostitution,” Sardesai said.
Earlier in this month, India voted in favour of removing marijuana from the list of ‘most dangerous drugs’ at the United Nations.