“I feel in these socially conservative times, somebody is needed, to bell the cat,” he told The Hindu. “Cannabis is a drug that has been given a bad name, the alcohol lobby, peddling something far more dangerous, has managed to club cannabis with more dangerous narcotics,” he said.
In another interview to the Times of India, the four -time MP said "We are the US of the '50s and the '60s. We are wannabes. The thinking is that if you hold a wine glass people will consider you belong to the upper class. You roll a joint and people will call you “charsi.” It is an elitist bias...Cannabis suffered a ban because it was an intoxicant of the poor."
Can the country learn from Odisha?
Cannabis, is legal in certain places in India, like Odisha, where you can walk up to a government excise shop and buy your day's need. Here's a menu with the rates from 2012.
This not only regulates the drug, so that the state can control the trade, it also generates revenue for the government in taxes besides offering more employment options.
In states with ideal conditions, marijuana is the only source of income for many local farmers, as it is easy and quick to grow. However, since it is banned, the farmers are forced to sell it to drug dealers for throwaway rates, while also fearing the police.
"When you ban something, one of the main results of it is that it promotes underground rings and results in an 'illicit' trade. In Odisha, we never looked at it like a drug, so we have never had a problem with it," Satpathy tells TNM.
When asked if the other members of Parliament were ready to have a debate on decriminalization, he said "They are neither ready nor interested to have a discussion on the issue."
"If the states really want to ban or control drugs, ban alcohol shops within the vicinity of a highway," he added.
Many states in the US like Colorado have legalized marijuana, and it seems to be doing more good than harm. However, as far as our country is concerned, the jury is still out.