Goa ministers tentative over legal growing of cannabis

Amid flak, Goa ministers show tentative approach on legal cultivation of cannabis

Ajgaonkar said the implementation of the proposal should not be hurried through as it has wider social ramifications

Representative image/Credit: Pixabay Image

Amid flak from the Opposition over a proposal to allow legal farming of cannabis for "medicinal purposes" in Goa, Cabinet ministers in the BJP-led coalition government appear to be treading a careful line.

While Art and Culture Minister Govind Gaude has claimed that he does not know what cannabis is, Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar has sought a detailed study of the proposal by experts before it is brought before the Cabinet for a decision.

"I don't know what cannabis is. Whether it is used as ganja or for medicinal purposes, I cannot comment on it. I will study it first... If we are looking at it from the employment point of view, we must also spare a thought for the families which may be destroyed on account of such a decision," Gaude told reporters.

Ajgaonkar said the implementation of the proposal should not be hurried through as it has wider social ramifications.

"It should be studied and a report needs to be compiled before taking such a decision...If experts give us good inputs, the government can go ahead with it, but only after a proper study is conducted," Ajgaonkar told reporters in Panaji.

The proposal originally mooted by the health ministry states that legal cannabis plantations should be allowed in Goa to supply derivatives for the pharmaceutical industry.

Law Minister Nilesh Cabral, whose ministry has vetted the proposal from a legal perspective, has said bhang, a derivative of cannabis, is already being sold in several Indian states.

“In seven states in India, a form of this (cannabis) plant known as bhang is already available. Bhang is sold across the counter in some states in licences stores like liquor stores in India,” Cabral has said.

Meanwhile, the Opposition, including the Aam Aadmi Party, Shiv Sena and the Goa Forward Party, has already opposed the proposal.

"This is nothing but an attempt to turn Goa into the drug capital of India," AAP Goa convenor Rahul Mahambre said.

"This government will lead to the doom of the youth in Goa by allowing cannabis plantations legally," Shiv Sena Goa president Jitesh Kamat said.