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Delhi High Court dismisses plea to allow medical use of Cannabis

Delhi High Court dismisses plea to allow medical use of Cannabis

Aditi Singh

The Delhi High Court today dismissed a public interest litigation seeking a direction to the Central Government to allow the medical use of Cannabis and its allied products.

The petition by a law student, Prashant Sharma, had also sought necessary amendments in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, along with the introduction of proper policy, to allow the use of Cannabis and its allied products for medical purposes.

The matter was listed before a Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar. The Court dismissed the petition on the ground that the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes could only be done by the legislature by either bringing a new enactment or amending the present law.

The Court also imposed costs of Rs. 10,000 on the petitioner. The amount shall be deposited towards the Delhi High Court Bar Association Library Fund.

Filed through advocates Pankaj Mehta and RK Mehta, the petition was based on the premise that cannabis was being erroneously treated as a criminal justice issue instead of a public health issue.

Relying on medical research, the petitioner claimed that there was strong evidence of the medical benefits of Cannabis or cannabinoids in cases of nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy, anorexia and cachexia in HIV/AIDS, chronic, especially neuropathic pain, spasticity in multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury.

It was further claimed that clinical studies with single cannabinoids or whole plant preparations have often shown positive anecdotal experiences of patients.

Emphasizing on the Right to Life under Article 21  of the Constitution of India, the petitioner had, therefore, asserted that legalization of medical cannabis would be very helpful to the patients suffering from chronic disease or those have stopped showing any improvement to available treatment and medicines.

..a person must be given every possible opportunity and treatment to cure or control his ailments..The NDPS Act is in violation of Article 21 to prevent patients suffering from diseases like cancer, chronic pain, lung ailments, epileptic seizures, Alzheimer’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis, bowel disorder, arthritis, HIV, etc. which can be cured and relieved by the use of compounds like CBD in the cannabis plant.“, it was argued.

The petitioner had also stated that there was no scientific reason to support the ban of cannabis and that international conventions themselves exempted the medicinal use of Cannabis.

Adding that several nations have legalized medical usage of cannabis and some have even legalized the recreational usage of the same, the petitioner had contended that the Central Government should have undertaken research and enacted appropriate legislation to keep up with the changing medical trends across the globe.

A PIL by  Great Legislation India Movement Trust seeking to de-criminalize of the use of cannabis in India is pending consideration before a Division Bench headed by Justice GS Sistani.