(Eds: Updates with quotes of Goa CM) Panaji, Dec 30 (PTI) Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday said the state government is "not taking ahead" the issue of allowing cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes, a move which had triggered a controversy and invited sharp criticism from the opposition.
Law Minister Nilesh Cabral told reporters on Tuesday evening that his department has vetted and cleared a proposal to allow cultivation of marijuana (ganja or grass) for medicinal purposes in the tourist state.
As the move invited swift criticism, Sawant stepped in and asserted that the controversial proposal is not being taken forward by the BJP government.
The Goa government is not taking ahead the issue of allowing cannabis to be cultivated as a medicinal plant in the state, Sawant said.
An unnecessary controversy has been created over the issue by some factions, the Chief Minister said.
The Indian Institute of Integrated Medicines had sent a proposal to various state governments to allow cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes, he said.
The proposal was received by the Goa government also and it was scrutinised by various departments, Sawant said.
The government had not agreed to the proposal. As an administrative process it was sent to various departments, he said.
Sawant said four to five states have already permitted cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Law Minister Cabral had said on Tuesday, "We have cleared the file from legal perspective. Controlled farming of marijuana for medicinal purposes would be permitted." Goa Congress spokesman Amarnath Panjikar, addressing a press conference here, had attacked the BJP government over the issue.
"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.
Independent MLA and former minister Rohan Khaunte had slammed the proposal as "deadly".
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."