The debate around legalising cannabis continues, but the latest person to bat for its legalisation is Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor. In a piece for The Print, Tharoor, along with his nephew Avinash, argue that the â€śland of bhangâ€ť should legalise the drug not only so it can be regulated, but also to ensure that corruption is reduced, while giving an economic boost.
In their piece, the Tharoors argues than an unregulated black market for cannabis does not let users know what it is that they are consuming, and lets users make an informed decision.
â€śImposing tax on cannabis sales can create revenue that can be spent on educating people about the risks of cannabis use, as we already do with public service information on alcohol and tobacco,â€ť they argue.
The article goes on to point out that the cannabis should be legalised to make people aware of the drugâ€™s potential harms (which can be controlled via regulation), for consumers to be aware of the contents of the drug they buy, reducing corruption of authority, the boost that the economy would be get by getting the money saved on policing, taxes and job creation.
â€śThe international prohibition of cannabis has failed in every country that has attempted to implement it. Instead of stopping drug use, cannabis prohibition has fuelled violence and criminality, increased health harms, and cost society an exorbitant and immeasurable sum of money,â€ť it adds.
In 1894, a 477-page report by the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission stated that moderate use of the drug practically produced no ill effects.
"In respect to the alleged mental effects of the drugs, the Commission has come to the conclusion that the moderate use of hemp drugs produces no injurious effects on the mind," it stated.
Fast forward to 1961, when an international treaty titled the 'Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs' was signed, which clubbed Cannabis with other Schedule 1 drugs like opium and cocaine.
However, the treaty still allowed India to carry on the tradition of large-scale consumption of 'bhang' and gave the country 25 years to clamp down on the drug's recreational use. At the end of it, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (India) was passed in 1985. After a few amendments, it came into effect, and it remains to this day
Tharoor isnâ€™t the first MP to advocate for the legalisation of marijuana.
In July 2017, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi called for the legalisation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. She made the suggestion at a meeting, which scrutinized the National Drug Demand Reduction Policy draft.
Dharamvir Gandhi, a Member of Parliament from Patiala, also sought to legalise the possession of possession and consumption in India among other â€śnon-syntheticâ€ť intoxicants.