An Australian doctor arrested in November last year for alleged possession of drugs has approached Bombay High Court seeking bail claiming he is working towards medicinal use of cannabis.
“Cannabis” is the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant (excluding the seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops) from which the resin has not been extracted, by whatever name they may be designated. However the word ‘Bhang’ was left out from the worldwide definition of “cannabis”. This allowed India to carry on the tradition of large-scale consumption of bhang, particularly during Holi. This consumption is mainly in the form of thandai, a milkshake-like preparation.
Bhang is also consumed as prasad of Shiva, and is popular between Mahashivaratri and Holi. With some among Sikh Nihangs, bhang is popular, especially during Hola Mohalla. Some Muslim Indian Sufis place the spirit of Khidr within the cannabis plant, and consume bhang
NDPS banned the production and sale of cannabis resin and flowers, but permitted the use of the leaves and seeds, allowing the states to regulate the latter.
Cultivation of cannabis for industrial purposes such as making industrial hemp or for horticultural use is legal in India. The National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances recognizes cannabis as a source of biomass, fibre, and high-value oil. The Government of India encourages research and cultivation of cannabis with low THC content
Doctor Reza Borhani, in his plea, said he should be granted bail in view of directions passed by the Supreme Court on the temporary release of inmates to reduce jail crowding in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
Borhani’s lawyer Shrinivas Bobde, while arguing the plea last week before Justice Gautam Patel through video conferencing, said his client was a doctor dealing with ozone healing and was working towards medicinal use of cannabis.
Justice Patel, however, noted that while it cannot comment on the intentions behind Borhani’s use or possession of drugs, the law, however, prohibits their possession.
“His (Borhani) intentions may be as pure as the dropping snow. Whatever may be his intentions, but if there is a prohibition under the law, what can the court do?” it said.
The court noted that Borhani, at the time of arrest in November 2019, was found in possession of 31.50 grams (1551 strips) of high-end party drug Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), which is considered as commercial quantity.
As per the police, the drugs were worth over Rs one crore.
Borhani has been booked under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
Justice Patel posted Borhani’s bail plea for further hearing on April 15, and asked the police to respond to the plea.