Since 1985, when the ill-conceived NDPS Act was enacted, this is the first time an Indian lawmaker has shown the courage of conviction to speak out against th law and ask for legalizing use of cannabis -the plant from which marijuana (ganja), hashish (charas) and bhang are derived. The NDPS Act had outlawed a way of life in India by bracketing ganja and charas with killer drugs like smack and heroin and prescribing a minimum 10-year jail term for the sale or possession of these drugs. Government shops that sold ganja and charas shut down and the poor man’s intoxicant was made illegal. Meantime, informal trade moved from these soft drugs to killer smack because while the punishment was the same, the profit margin for smack was 10 times higher than for ganja. And for the first time, we witnessed a drugs problem in India with the emergence of the desperate “smackiya“.
Several MPs knew what was happening, argued against the Act in private, but none spoke out against it.Some of it was because of American pressure (the US was losing patience with their pot-smoking flower children), but mostly because soft drugs like marijuana and hashish didn’t enjoy the respectability of alcohol with the upper classes. Since then, penalties for soft drugs have been made lesser than for hard drugs. But should there be a penalty at all on them? American research shows that marijuana is no more harmful to health than alcohol -in fact, some research suggests alcohol is worse. Several US states have legalized the medicinal use of marijuana and a growing number are legalizing it for recreational purposes too. And to think that it was India where marijuana and hashish were used as recreational drugs for as long as anyone can remember -our scriptures talk of Lord Shiva’s fondness for it.
Cannabis ban is elitist. It should go: Tathagata Satpathy
To the pleasantly surprised Net audience, the four-time MP from Dhenkanal in Odisha even showed the way to legally score the stuff in his own state. The comments have since gone viral, earning Satpathy many fans for his candid admission and frank opinion on what he says is an unfairly stigmatized subject. In a conversation with Deeptiman Tiwary, he explains his opposition to the “elitist” ban on cannabis consumption in India and how given an opportunity he would stand up for its repeal in Parliament.
You’ve admitted that you have smoked pot.Now, that’s a rare admission by an MP given that it’s a statutory offence to do so.
I did it when I was young. I haven’t smoked pot for some time now. But I neither regret it nor have any remorse about it. I also don’t support the ban on cannabis consumption.