The law department of the Goa government has given approval to a proposal to allow cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes, a minister has said, a move which drew flak from opposition parties.
Law Minister Nilesh Cabral told reporters on Tuesday evening that his department has vetted and cleared the proposal to allow cultivation of marijuana (ganja or grass) for medicinal purposes in the tourist state.
The proposal was moved by the health department, he said.
We have cleared the file from legal perspective. Controlled farming of marijuana for medicinal purposes would be permitted, he said.
The plant was added to the list of banned substances under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) in 1985, Cabral said.
Plantation of marijuana would be permitted so that the natural drug can be sold to pharmaceutical companies, he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had said a proposal has been moved before the government to allow cultivation of marijuana, but no approval has been granted in the matter.
Cabral's statement that his department has cleared the proposal to allow limited cultivation of marijuana in the state came hours later.
The move drew sharp criticism from opposition parties in the BJP-ruled state.
Goa Congress spokesman Amarnath Panjikar, addressing a press conference on Wednesday, said the BJP government has "stooped to the lowest possible level".
The actions of the state government are blatantly illegal.
At a time when Goa is struggling to fight use of drugs, this move will further inject narcotics in the social system of the state, he said.
Panjikar demanded that the government immediately scrap the proposal.
The BJP has to admit that it is a party which supports narcotics trade, he said.
Independent MLA and former minister Rohan Khaunte also slammed the decision.
He tweeted, Cannabis Legalisation spells Doom! Shameful that @goacm supports this deadly proposal that will destroy Goan Youth by fostering Drug Culture, Crimes, Corruption, Social Degradation etc.
"Legality will lead to open misuse and destroy our peaceful society."