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SLIMA urges govt. to fall in line with other countries and UN on using cannabis for medical purposes



By Chaminda Silva

Samastha Lanka Indigenous Medical Association (SLIMA), a local ayurveda medical body yesterday urged the government to ease the laws on cannabis for it to be developed as an herbal drug as in our past for many ailments, which many countries have already done.

Addressing the media at the Sri Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi Mandira complex in Colombo, Adviser to SLIMA former Registrar of Ayurveda Medical Council Dr. Danister L. Perera said that the United Nations had recently reclassified strict control measures applied on the Cannabis plant.

“There have been recent calls for amending the laws here by some persons with an ulterior motive to promote the narcotic use of the plant. It is that campaign now stands as an obstruction to our efforts to have the plant legalised for medical purposes. We too are against the abuse of the medicinal plant as a narcotic. It is high time the government considered relaxing and reintroducing laws pertaining to medicinal use of cannabis in the country. Such measures could pave the way to utilise it for medicinal purposes, as done in Ayurveda for centuries.

Dr. Perera said the United Nations central drug policy making body Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND) had recently reclassified cannabis from its previous state of strict control measures, that discouraged its use for general medical purposes.

Dr. Perera said on Dec 02 last year 53 member countries of UN-CND had voted to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, where it was listed alongside specific deadly, addictive opioids including heroin, having little to no therapeutic purposes.

“The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs with 53 of its members has recognised cannabis as a plant with various medicinal properties after 59 years, and consented to reclassify it from the list of dangerous drugs, which is a great breakthrough in promoting Ganja for health benefits.

“We know that most countries including ours, draft laws pertaining to drugs, crimes and terrorism under the guidelines and resolutions adopted in the international conventions like the United Nations. Therefore, it is a golden opportunity for the government to reconsider its harsh policies on cannabis preventing it being developed into a multi-million dollar generating industry as a medicinal product.”

Chairman SLIMA Dr. Upul Dela Bandara said many international research had proved that cannabidiol (CBD), the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis was an essential component in medicinal Marijuana.

He said a number of countries that had legalized the use of plant including several states in India for medicinal purposes earned millions of dollars in foreign exchange by exporting it to the West.

Dr. Bandara questioned why Sri Lanka was not using the opportunity to develop this herbal product, which was grown abundantly in remote areas, to make a steady foreign currency generating industry, as a novel solution for a pandemic hit economy.

Organiser SLIMA Dr. Washington Nanayakkara explained the numerous medicinal properties of the ganja plant, which had been prescribed in Ayurveda treatments for thousands of years and how certain western powers had invented misconceptions regarding cannabis since the early nineteenth century to promote their chemical drugs worldwide.

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SJB MP slams police double standards



“Why one law for Ponnambalam and another for Gamage?”

The police have failed to display the same efficiency they displayed in arresting Jaffna District MP Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam with regard to arresting State Minister Diana Gamage, who should have been spending her time at the Mirihana Immigration Detention Centre, Kurunegala District SJB MP Nalin Bandara Jayamaha told Parliament on Friday.

“If the police had displayed the same efficacy, Diana Gamage should have been at the Mirihana Detention Centre at this time. Instead she comes to parliament and issues threats to other MPs. The courts have clearly stated that the CID could take her into custody because she had been using two passports.

“The Immigration Controller himself has reported to the courts that she had been a UK citizen since 2004 and using a UK passport since then. She has not revoked her UK citizenship. In addition she has obtained anther passport through the Secretary General of Parliament. The Speaker too should have a responsibility to prevent a foreign citizen sitting unlawfully in the House,” he said.

Jayamaha said that Gamage had no right to sit in parliament. “The case against her regarding her having forged passports is postponed again and again. The law is not implemented. My colleague Mujibur Rahuman tabled a document in this House that the Defence Secretary had been informed of the illegality of Gamage’s presence in Parliament. I tabled the same again today.

“She recently told a TV talk-show that she had applied for the revocation of her UK citizenship. We do not know whether she has two tongues,” the MP said.

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Sarath Weerasekera opposes SLT share sale on security grounds



Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), which owns a fixed and mobile telecom group, which is partly foreign owned and listed should not be privatized, the head of a parliamentary committee on national security has said.

Government MP, Retd. Admiral Sarath Weerasekara who chairs the Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security told parliament Friday that divestment of the 49.5 percent stake in SLT held by the government could “expose the country’s strategic communication infrastructure and sensitive information to private companies that are motivated by profit, which could pose a threat to national security”.

Weerasekara also said that any individual or organization proscribed or otherwise that “aided terrorists or extremists” must not be allowed to purchase shares or control Sri Lanka’s national assets.

The claim comes despite satellite links and international cables connecting the country being built and managed by foreign conglomerates in which many connected countries are also shareholders. SLT is also a shareholder in some global cable companies.

Weerasekara suggested that the government retain the right to repurchase shares held by the majority shareholder of SLT.SLT’s second biggest shareholder, behind the Sri Lanka government, is Malaysia-based Usaha Tegas Sdn Bhd with a 44.9 percents take in the company.

Most Sri Lanka’s mobile firms were also built and owned not just by private firm but foreign ones. SLT’s own mobile network, Mobitel was a build operate transfer project by Australia’s Telstra.

Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers in March 2023 listed Sri Lanka Telecom among several state companies to be re-structured.SLT currently enjoys market leadership in fixed-line services and is the second-largest operator in mobile. It also owns an extensive optical fibre network.The company was placed on watch for a possible rating upgrade by Fitch Ratings in March 2023 after the government announced the restructuring. (EconomyNext)

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Cardinal hits out at government demanding local elections



By Norman Palihawadane

Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has urged the government to hold local elections to secure the democratic rights of the people.

“Voting is a right of the people that we must all enjoy. It is a right that every person over 18 -years of age is entitled to to determine the future of the country,” he said on Thursday.

“Today justice as been turned into injustice, governance to dictatorship and law into lawlessness,” the 75-year-old cardinal told a gathering of hundreds of people at a function at St. Anthony’s College in Kochchikade.

Local polls to elect 340 councils were slated for April 25 but the election commission postponed it, citing a lack of funds.

“The government said earlier that it doesn’t have money to hold an election, now it’s saying that it has money. If the government has the money, please give an opportunity to the people to vote and let the people express their wishes. How much of what came from the IMF was used for agriculture? How much for the fishing industry? And what about education?” the cardinal queried.

Rather than improving the lives of people, “politicians import goods, and bring in what we need and what we don’t need, destroying our economic independence, leading us to depend on foreign countries,” he said.

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