By Avinash Tharoor

An Indian minister has called for the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes, as legislators consider approaches to reducing drug misuse in the country.

Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women and Child Development, declared that “marijuana should be legalised for medical purposes, especially as it serves a purpose in [treating] cancer”. Gandhi was speaking during a ministerial discussion on India's National Drug Demand Reduction Policy - a regularly-revised government document which aims to reduce demand for both illegal and pharmaceutical drugs.

There are mentions of cannabis in historical and sacred Indian texts from over 3,000 years ago, however the drug was prohibited across the country in 1985 following pressure from the US’ Reagan administration. Ironically, the US is now one of the countries at the forefront of the movement for cannabis law reform.

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