Don’t legalise cannabis: Religious leaders

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Buddhist prelates, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and medical officers joined hands with the Sri Lanka Temperance Association today to protest against the move to legalise cannabis.

They said the legalising of cannabis would be detrimental to the country and urged the government to give up the move.

Mahanayake of the Kotte Sri Kalyani Samagri Sangha Saba, the Ven. Dr Ittapana Dhammalankara Thera lauding President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s efforts to launch regular drug raids including on cannabis requested him to desist from legalizing cannabis.

“Certain companies and individuals are promoting cannabis thus creating a national problem. International forces are operating in the country forcing the authorities to legalise cannabis to facilitate the sale of their tobacco products,” the Thera told a media conference at the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress.

The Cardinal said the media had revealed that international organisations and embassies have discussed the topic of legalising the cannabis and even certain ministers had made their comments on them. While thanking the government for withstanding these external pressures so far, he urged the government to continue to take stern action against narcotics. “Cannabis makes peoples’ lives miserable and by legalizing it one would be creating another menace in the country” the Cardinal said.

Mahanayake of Amarapura Chapter, the Ven. Thirikunamale Ananda Thera too said he counted on the government not to make any disastrous moves that could jeopardize the people’s well-being and hoped that the leaders would act prudently on this matter. He pointed out that groups with vested interests are using the Ayurvedic platform to promote cannabis by misinforming the public.

Resident Psychiatrist of the National Hospital and Chairman of ADIC told the media the World Health Organization (WHO) has very clearly indicated the health hazards of cannabis use while Dr Manoj Fernando, Senior lecturer in Health Promotion at the Rajarata University pointed out that an organized group with vested interests and without any scientific knowledge is attempting to mislead the public with misinformation. Consultant Physician Dr Anuala Wijesundare too emphasized on the need to pass right information to the public. Vice President of the Temperance Movement Ven. Pathberiye Wimalagnana Thera and Ven. Gnanaseeha Thera of Wajirarama temple Bambalapitiya too addressed the news conference.

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