Legalising Cannabis is a tough challenge for the government

Biren government’s move, considering legalisation of cannabis in the state is already met with opposition as expected. Though the intentions of the chief minister and the government are good and for genuine purpose, considering that it is meant for medicinal and industrial purpose, it was perhaps evident from the word go that it would be opposed by some sections and organisations of the society. While declaring about the legalization of medicinal marijuana in the state, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, during a press conference held in Imphal on September 21, 2019, said that the government was seriously considering legalising medical marijuana to help boost the state’s revenue. He also said this hemp oil can not only help patients of paralysis but also help the state strengthen its economy. “We will discuss the issue at the next meeting of state Cabinet. Arunachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have already legalised it for medicinal purposes,” he said.

Yes! The intention of the government for a positive note must be appreciated considering that Marijuana indeed has various medicinal and industrial purposes and can, hence, be used in the right way. And yes, legalizing Cannabis will also help boost the state’s revenue and strengthen the economy. But again, as mentioned earlier the state government will face challenges from a large section of the society and various CSOs considering that Cannabis is considered a drug and can be misused, legalized or not. For a start, women organizations consisting of All Manipur Women’s Social Reformation and Development Samaj (Nupi Samaj), Apunba Manipur Kanba Ema Lup, Apunba Nupi Lup (ANUL) and Tammi-Chingmi Lup have raised concerns and opposed the government’s move on legalisation of cannabis (Marijuana/Ganja) in the state. It is an insult to all the women of the society who have been struggling for more than 40 years to bring an effective change and make Manipur into drug-free society, Nupi Samaj president Thokchom Ramani had said then.

Indeed, various organisations in the state especially such as Coalition Against Drugs and Alcohol (CADA) and others have been fighting to make Manipur a drug/alcohol free state and this intention of the government will probably go down against their fight. Moreover, it will also be difficult tasks for the government in making people understand the positive value of Marijuana. Or even if they understand, will the public really use it in the positive way for medicinal or industrial purpose? A tough question for the government to answer considering that thousands of acres of illegal poppy plantations have been destroyed over the last one year or so.

A tough challenge lies ahead for the government in its move to legalise cannabis in the state. While the intention is good and must be appreciated, the government must also work on making the common people and certain CSOs understand the legalization and the importance of Cannabis in everyday life especially in medicinal and industrial purposes. The government must also keep a vigilance to make sure that the legalized marijuana is no misused for business purpose or for recreational drug. Indeed, considering the usefulness of Cannabis, it is indeed a great move from the part of the government to legalise it. But the government must understand that the process to legalizing cannabis is easier said than done. So, will it succeed in legalizing cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes? Only time will tell.

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