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Monks, native physicians call for legalising cannabis for medical purposes



by Saman Indrajith

The Sri Lanka Indigenous Medicine Confederation yesterday called on the government to legalise the use of cannabis to promote indigenous medicine.

Chairman of the Confederation Ven Bengamuwe Nalaka Thera yesterday said that even Buddha had preached the use of the plant for its medicinal use and, therefore, the government should think of legalising it for the promotion of indigenous medicine practices.

Addressing the media at the Sri Pangnananda Dharmayathana in Kelaniya Ven Nalaka Thera said that the indigenous medicinal practices, known as Hela Vedakama, had existed for generations in this country and had approved the medicinal use of the cannabis plant. “Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the people have realised the value of indigenous medicinal practices unlike in the pre-pandemic times. It is time we considered promoting the traditional methods and the use of ancient wisdom for the benefit of the people. The government has a duty to understand the need for conducting more research on the traditional methods rather than blindly seeking solutions from western methods.”

Ven Nalaka Thera said that the value of indigenous medicine was that the country did not have to rely on imports for its ingredients that could be found locally so that a huge sum of monies spent for medicine could be saved.

The Thera said: “Cannabis is used as an ingredient in most of the indigenous medicine and some native doctors have given up producing them because of the shortage of the ingredient since it has been banned because it is abused as a narcotic. The colonial rulers knew that banning cannabis would deal a major blow on the traditional medicinal practices. It is a valuable medicine. Even the Buddha had approved its use for medicinal purposes. It is mentioned in the Bhesajjabandhaka of Mahavagga Pali that the vapour of cannabis boiled in water should be used to cure body pains. There are references in Tripitaka of the use of cannabis hemp to prepare a type of robes known as Bahngam robes. It is said that wearing that robe will cure some illnesses. Therefore, we point out to the government there is nothing wrong in using cannabis as a medicine.”

Secretary of the Confederation Indigenous doctor Sarath Kotteyawatte said that it was shown on media how the law enforcing agencies set fire to stocks of cannabis plants captured during raids. “While indigenous doctors give up producing medicine because of the shortage or no availability of the plant owing to the ban, kilos of captured plants are set on fire. It is the objective of our Confederation to promote indigenous medicine and uplift it to its former glory. The prevailing laws are a stumbling block and we call on the government to remove that hindrance.”

Traditional Indigenous doctor Nimal Warnasuriya: “The pharmaceutical mafia is very powerful. The biggest loser in legalising cannabis and promotion of indigenous medicine is the pharmaceutical mafia. The plant has not only been used as a medicinal ingredient but as a spice in preparing curries so that it would help promote the health of the people. That also helped immunity of children. Not only in indigenous medicine, even in Ayurveda it is an accepted fact. There are references in Robert Knox’s An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon that the then Lankans used the plant for medicinal purposes. The government should rethink all of these and legalize the plant for its medicinal use.”

Executive Committee Members of the Federation Ven Anguruwelle Jinananda Thera, Ayurvedic doctor Anil Jayaweera and Matugama Seneviruwan also addressed the press.

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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?



… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.



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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others



The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.



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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area



Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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