India Home Ministry Wants To Reform The Narcotics Act, We Think it May Be for Cannabis

Boomtown

Hi! Welcome to the 9th edition of Boomtown. If you’re reading this for the first time, then welcome. As of this writing, not only are we completely blazed out of our minds, but we can’t wait to continue blazing ahead for the rest of the weekend. During the beginning of this year we had remarked how we had a feeling that 2020 was going to be the year for Cannabis in India. We may just be proven right. In fact in a recent newsletter we had laid down the timeline for the future of India’s cannabis ecosystem. but things may be happening even faster than we predicted.

Let’s start blazing. 

India’s Ministry of Home Affairs wants to talk about Narcotics and Drugs

In a notification dated 7th October, 2020 and titled ‘Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws’, the Ministry of Home Affairs may have raised almighty hopes among people and professionals alike, for discussing about amending and reforming provisions related to cannabis in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropics Act, 1985, the law that governs all matters related to cannabis and harder drugs. 

The notification does not mention cannabis explicitly in any way, but considering the way that the global market for cannabis is shaping up; India’s burgeoning medical and industrial cannabis companies; cannabis’ relevance in Ayurveda, India’s ancient medical system and also the fact that cannabis use has been documented in most ancient scriptures, we predict that the reforms are for clearing the way for performing research on cannabis, and letting state governments loose to encourage a cannabis industry ecosystem. Secondly, tapping into new sources of revenue makes sense to let loose the cannabis wave for the government.

Plus the furore over linking cannabis with Rhea C and Sushant Singh Rajput probably was an added impetus for cannabis regulation to arrive into national consciousness as to how prevalent it is in the country, with 3 crore users of cannabis in India.

Here’s what the notification exactly states: 

“The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, vide its notification ‘1-2-19 Judicial Cell (Part I)’ dated 02-03-2020, 04-05-2020, and 29-05-2020 has constituted the National Level Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws with the mandate to “recommend reforms in a principled, effective, and efficient manner which ensures the safety and security of the individual, the community and the nation; and which prioritises the constitutional values of justice, dignity and the inherent worth of the individual.” 

Nothing here. We have to go ahead.

The Committee has been tasked with recommending reforms pertaining to ‘The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.’ Pursuant to the same, the Committee invites suggestions, opinions and views regarding all identifiable issues pertaining to the legislation. Such suggestions, opinions and views may be provided to the Committee through its Open Consultation mechanism. The Open Consultation mechanism shall be accessible at https://criminallawreforms.in/open-consultation/ from 17-10-2020 till 16-11-2020. In addition to the above, any journal articles; reports; papers; studies; books; or any other documents/material; or audio/video files may be mailed to the following e-mail ID: info-criminallawreforms@nludelhi.ac.in” 

This is a welcome move. 

We think India’s medical and industrial cannabis companies are going to write in about the bottlenecks they face in getting access to the cannabis they need to make medicines, edible oils, protein powder and the like. The bulk of the suggestions ought to pertain to a proper research based framework to profile India’s cannabis genetics and to build a database for India’s cannabis strains from each and every state. Apart from this, other recommendations would pertain empowering states to regulate recreational cannabis rules as per their own wish in a controlled manner (this is already written down, but the cannabis flower and resin is prohibited – same for medical cannabis. We need access to the flower and fruiting tops of the cannabis plant, not just the seeds and leaves)

But hold on.

What if the Home Ministry goes all out and next year, decriminalizes the use of recreational cannabis? But we still do not think so. The Pharma Lobby is still too strong and so is the tobacco lobby (which is Indian Tobacco Company, ITC) They will not let this happen till 2024 at least when the next elections are due. We predict that the reforms ought to be for medical and industrial cannabis only. But that said, what’s the harm in hoping? In fact, we ourselves are going to send an email about our suggestions to the committee.  

“The Committee therefore requests all professionals, functionaries, stakeholders of the Criminal Justice System and all interested members of the public to participate in the Open Consultation. The Committee shall be accommodative of all inputs and shall stand greatly benefited by your participation.” 

This is the first time that an open consultation is being held for the NDPS Act, and all the signs point towards cannabis reform. 

Let’s keep blazing as always. 

Have a great weekend 🙂

3 thoughts on “India Home Ministry Wants To Reform The Narcotics Act, We Think it May Be for Cannabis

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