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Religious Stigma Could Hinder Cannabis Reform In Sri Lanka

The cannabis plant has been used by various societies throughout history for spiritual purposes in many parts of the world. As far back as 2,400 years ago the Scythians used bongs made of solid gold to consume cannabis as part of their rituals.

In ancient Egypt, where spiritual beliefs and treating illnesses went hand in hand, the cannabis plant was seen as being tremendously useful. Traces of cannabis in various Egyptian artifacts goes back thousands of years.

The word ‘cannabis’ is believed to have originated from the Hebrew word “קנבוס” (“KaNaBoS”), and many believe that cannabis was a key ingredient in the anointing oil used in ancient Hebrew ceremonies. Many current religions use cannabis for sacramental purposes, including members of the Rastafarian religion.

Ironically, many of the most vocal cannabis opponents in recent decades come from religious communities. That is on display in Sri Lanka right now where religious leaders are pushing back on government plans to ramp up medical cannabis production and exports. Per Christianity Today:

Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera, a known Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, scholar, and researcher, explained that the government’s plan to legalize cannabis production could threaten citizens’ health and culture.

The monk added that Sri Lankans are being led to believe that cannabis is beneficial, which he countered is untrue. He also explained that the government must focus more on the evils of alcoholism and substance use instead of proposing laws that generate income taxes.

Additionally, a ‘priest, who refused to be named’ also spoke out about Sri Lanka’s cannabis pursuits in the cited article, urging the nation’s government to eradicate cannabis from Sri Lanka entirely rather than embrace it.

Even if the government did everything that it could, it’s doubtful that complete eradication could ever be achieved, in Sri Lanka or anywhere else except perhaps Antarctica. Cannabis has been used in Sri Lanka in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, and that is a practice that will presumably continue well into the future, if not forever.

For the record, what is being proposed in Sri Lanka is not geared towards domestic use, but rather, to produce medical cannabis domestically for the purpose of exporting it to other countries. Cannabis prohibition does not work, and it’s time for Sri Lanka to take a more sensible, compassionate approach to cannabis policy.

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Committee Of Experts In Sri Lanka To Explore Cannabis Exports

Sri Lanka, an island nation located in the Indian Ocean, has experienced tremendous economic and political turmoil in 2022. A fuel and food crisis spread across the country earlier this year, which then led to national protests that resulted in the ouster of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

President Rajapaksa temporarily fled the country in July, months after Sri Lanka defaulted on its estimated $50 billion external debt and declared bankruptcy. A multi-billion dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund has helped to some degree, however, the nation is in desperate need of any economic boost it can find.

One idea that has gained traction lately is to cultivate medical cannabis and export it. The emerging legal cannabis industry is spreading across the globe and already providing economic boosts wherever it is permitted to operate. A group of experts is being assembled to explore how Sri Lanka can get in on the action. Per News 1st:

Sri Lanka is proposing to explore the possibility of exporting marijuana.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivering the 2023 Budget speech said that a committee of experts will be appointed to explore the possibility of cultivating marijuana in Sri Lanka ONLY for export purposes.

Cannabis policy is complicated in Sri Lanka, but views regarding cannabis prohibition are evolving within the nation’s borders, just as they are elsewhere throughout the region ever since Thailand started to lead the way.

Sri Lanka is in a rough spot, in that it doesn’t share a land border with any other nation, which limits economic opportunity in some ways. Fortunately, the cannabis industry can operate in some form anywhere on earth, including in Sri Lanka.

The faster the reported committee of experts can come up with a viable plan, the better, as other countries are not waiting around for Sri Lanka to get things in gear. The opportunities for exports today will not be the same in a year as the legal international cannabis industry becomes more crowded and more competitive every passing month.

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Minister In Sri Lanka Wants To Legalize Medical Cannabis Exports

Sri Lanka may not be the first place that you think of when it comes to cannabis reform and the emerging cannabis industry, however, the nation is trending in the right direction, albeit slowly. Adult-use cannabis is illegal in Sri Lanka while medical cannabis is legal in certain limited instances.

The cannabis plant has a long history in Sri Lanka, with local populations using it for centuries for religious purposes. A new push is underway in Sri Lanka to legalize medical cannabis exports, with the nation’s Minister of Indigenous Medicine leading the charge. Per Colombo Gazette:

Medical cannabis to be legalised for export, State Minister of Indigenous Medicine Sisira Jayakody said.

The State Minister has instructed the relevant officials to prepare the legal documents for this purpose.

He said that Sri Lanka can earn around USD 3 billion through the export of indigenous medicine.

It is no secret that Sri Lanka’s economy is in ruins right now. Roughly a decade ago Sri Lanka had one of the fastest growing economies in the region, however, in May the country defaulted on its debt for the first time in history, and it has been all down hill from there.

Legalizing medical cannabis exports may not fix every economic problem that Sri Lanka has, yet it could definitely help to some degree. In addition to legalizing exports the government in Sri Lanka also needs to embrace cannabis domestically and ensure that every suffering patient in the country is afforded the same level of safe access as found in many other countries.

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