An already impending debate has now resurfaced after the Minister of Women and Children Development, Maneka Gandhi, has suggested legalising Marijuana in India for its medicinal purposes.
Marijuana is a popular psycho-active drug that is known for its pain-relieving effects and its medicinal use is allowed in many countries across the world. On Sunday, the minister suggested its medicinal usage for many treatments such as cancer therapy that is known to be painful.
Maneka explained that, “marijuana should be legalised for medical purposes, especially as it serves a purpose in cancer.”
The drug, apart from pain-killer effects, is known to increase appetite. “I have known my counterparts abroad, where the drug is used for its medicinal use. On prescription, if it is made available, it will be beneficial for the people,” said Dr Priyanka Mahajan, psychiatrist at Masina Hospital.
The biggest argument, in the marijuana debate, has been the problem of drug-abuse. Countries like the US have stated that the availability has in turn resulted in less substance abuse. Marijuana has at least two active chemicals known as cannabidol and tetrahydrocannabinol, both of which have their own set of medicinal applications.
Medical cannabis or medicinal marijuana has many known effects and side-effects say doctors. “Marijuana does have various proven effects in literature like chemotherapy-induced vomiting control and for AIDS patients to improve their appetite. In psychiatry, it is used as antipsychotic, antidepressant as well as anti-anxiety drug. Even for autistic children, it is known for behavioural control. But legalizing it should be done alongside strong guidelines, said Dr Sagar Karia, Secretary of Bombay Psychiatric Association.
Therefore, doctors in the city say it is a nice move, if followed with caution. “Marijuana is known across the world for its various uses. In that case, we need to understand that it needs to be used carefully, knowing about a person’s vulnerability to the drug. Anyone who is vulnerable, may end up getting addicted, which may have its set of side-effects,” said Dr Sagar Mundada, consulting psychiatrist at KEM hospital and youth wing president, of Indian Medical Association (IMA)-Maharashtra chapter.
He added, “If the message of its medicinal usage is sent across people in the correct manner, there is definitely no problem. One must know that if used indiscriminately, there will be major consequences.