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 Venerable  Bengamuwe Nalaka Thera said that even the 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.

“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," the Thera said.