Tathagata Satpathy, who represents Dhenkanal constituency of Odisha, wants cannabis (also called Bhang or Ganja) consumption to be made legal in India. According to him, due to the ban on the consumption of cannabis, alcoholism has increased.
“In the villages of my constituency, old people, venerable people used to smoke marijuana… natural marijuana. Today, by imposing ban on natural substances, which people have been using for ages, from the time of Lord Shiva, we have actually forced a lot of these people to move on to alcohol.”
The four-time MP said that alcohol has replaced bhang which was earlier legally available.
“Bhang was a very common intoxicant in the holy city of Puri. You could get it on the roadside. It was legally available there. It is available in Varanasi also. You have made it illegal and it has been replaced by alcohol,” he said.
He also said that the ‘piecemeal bans’ on alcohol consumption in various states are not useful.
“The brightest example is the Gujarat model. The state has been dry since the 1960s, but alcohol is available in every nook and corner of the state,” he added.
In March this year, Satpathy, who is a journalist by profession and the editor of two newspapers, Dharitri (Oriya) and Orissa Post (English), became the first Indian MP to hold an official ‘Ask Me Anything’ session on Reddit.
He also became a favourite amongst youngsters after he admitted that he smoked pot when he was young. Not only that, he also told ways to score weed in Odisha.
Satpathy, the BJD’s chief whip in the Lok Sabha, hails from a political family. His mother, Nandini Satpathy served as chief minister of Odisha during 1972-76 and his father Devendra Satpathy represented Dhenkanal Constituency.
He also called Cannabis ban as ‘elitist,’ brought in during the 1980s allegedly under US pressure, and argued for its legalisation for recreation. Satpathy explains
“We are the US of the ’50s and the ’60s. We are wannabes. The thinking is that if you hold a wine glass people will consider you belong to the upper class. You roll a joint and people will call you a `charsi’. It is an elitist bias. It was during Rajiv Gandhi’s time that the Indian state was most elitist. Cannabis suffered a ban because it was an intoxicant of the poor.”