Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh on Thursday urged scientists to expedite research on cannabis and explore its medicinal capabilities in curing neuropathies, cancer and epilepsy.
Singh was chairing a meeting to review the 'Cannabis Research Project' undertaken by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (CSIR-IIIM) in Jammu.
The minister said the project is "first of its kind in India" and has the potential to "produce export quality medicine for neuropathies, cancer and epilepsy". This project will give an impetus for huge investment opportunities in Jammu and Kashmir, he added.
Singh stressed that a synergy between the country's premier institutions such as CSIR-IIIM, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM), Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and All India Institutes of Medical Sciences was important to realise the full potential of the cannabis research work.
The proximity of these institutions in Jammu could be used to establish a collaboration that would help in developing marketing strategies, clinical trials and technical support for CSIR-IIIM's project, he said.
During the review meeting, Singh also asked all stakeholders of the project to hold a workshop to address the hurdles in the project and ensure smooth progress. In 2019, the Union Finance Ministry had sanctioned a research and development project on compounds such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in cannabis, commonly known as ganja.
While CBD is used in gels and oils and has medicinal properties, THC is responsible for the psychoactive effect. The nod for the research came after the World Health Organisation proposed re-categorising cannabis in international law due to growing evidence supporting its medical use.