The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought response of the Centre on a plea seeking legalisation of cannabis.
A trust, in its plea, has challenged provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act which prohibit the use of cannabis, contending that the drug has medicinal and industrial benefits and its use has been legalised in various western nations.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the central government seeking its stand on the plea.
The Great Legalisation Movement India Trust has urged the court to declare as unconstitutional the provisions in the NDPS Act and Rules which prohibit and criminalise the use of cannabis and prescribe unreasonable restrictions with respect to activities related to it.
It has contended that treating cannabis at par with other harmful and lethal chemicals or psychotropic substances was "arbitrary, unscientific, unreasonable and unconstitutional".
The petition has claimed that there are several scientific research papers, including one by the World Health Organization, that establish the medicinal benefits of the use of cannabis as well as its industrial application -- extraction of fibres from the cannabis plant.
It has contended that while enacting the NDPS Act, the government failed to consider cannabis' medicinal benefits, including its effect as an analgesic, its role in fighting cancer, reducing nausea and increasing appetite in HIV patients.
The trust, registered in Karnataka and in the forefront of the movement to decriminalise use of cannabis, has claimed there is not a single document which shows that it was lethal to humans.
It has sought directions to the government to frame rules permitting and regulating use of cannabis, especially for medicinal purposes.
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