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Posted at: Aug 30, 2018, 1:27 AM; last updated: Aug 30, 2018, 1:27 AM (IST)

Gandhi’s plea to legalise soft drugs gains support

Vishav Bharti

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29

Rebel AAP MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi’s demand for legalising soft drugs, including poppy husk, opium and marijuana, is gaining ground. Earlier, the idea was endorsed by a few scholars, including economist Dr SS Johl and former Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences Dr SS Gill.

Three farmers’ organisations — BKU (Lakhowal), Khushal Kisan Welfare Society and Unnat Kissan Welfare Society — and some truck unions have held several public meetings in support of legalisation of these drugs. A major public meeting will take place in Morinda on Saturday.

Recently, such meetings took place at Mandi Ahmedgarh (Sangrur), Chamkaur Sahib (Ropar), Bathinda, Faridkot, Moga, Ludhiana, Guruharsahai (Ferozepur) and Khamano (Fatehgarh Sahib). Farmers’ organisations are supporting the demand on the ground that profitability of poppy cultivation will bail them out of the agrarian crisis. “It will increase income from Rs 6-7 lakh per acre. I have seen it happen in Rajasthan,” said Harinder Singh Lakhowal, general secretary, BKU (Lakhowal).

However, Dr Gandhi wants cultivation to be government-regulated. He said it could be started on village common land instead of farmers’ own land.

Earlier, the MP had sought an amendment to the NDPS Act and pushed for a debate on the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2016. He has been arguing that recreational drugs such as poppy husk, opium and marijuana should be legally made available to control the drug mafia. The war on drugs has led to the creation of a powerful drug mafia, besides human rights violations and the loss of innumerable lives. “The sale of soft drugs should be made to consumers from approved shops,” he added. The cultivation of poppy was banned in Punjab in 1955.


Pros

  • Poppy husk, opium and marijuana have much less adverse impact on the body than liquor and tobacco
  • If common man’s recreational substances are made available legally, users’ dependence on addictive, lethal drugs is likely to decrease
Cons

  • Consumption of poppy, opium and marijuana damages nervous system and affects efficiency
  • In Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, cultivation of poppy has failed to improve the plight of farmers

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