‘Legalise Chars’, Pakistani citizen appeals to the court

A Pakistani citizen has urged the Sindh High Court to legalise the possession of small quantities of Chars (Marijuana) in public interest.

According to the 2013 report, over 6 million Pakistani use Charas every year.

The petitioner requested the court that people should be allowed to carry 10 grams of chars (marijuana) on their person.

“What kind of a petition have you brought? Do you want everyone to start smoking chars?” responded Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, visibly perturbed by the plea.

At this, petitioner Ghulam Asghar Saeein informed the bench that several countries in the world have decriminalised hash.

“If you want to smoke hash then go to those countries, it is not allowed here,” responded Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, as he dismissed the petition.

“It will increase the country’s income and revenue,” said the petitioner at the judge’s questioning. “We do not want such money, as there are legitimate ways to increase income,” responded the judge.

Many Pakistanis are surprisingly open to using cannabis, with the spongy, black hash made from marijuana grown in the country’s tribal belt and neighbouring Afghanistan the preferred variant of the drug, said AFP news agency in a feature on the use of hashish in Pakistan in 2017.

Whereas alcohol is explicitly forbidden in Islamic scripture, hash seemingly straddles a theological gray zone, which could explain its popularity in the country.

Pakistan has also approved cultivation of Marijuana Hemp to tap in to the $25 billion strong CBD market.

Even if most observant Muslims in Pakistan scoff at the idea of drinking, a prod into their feelings on marijuana often triggers a wry smile followed by a trite maxim about how good it makes food taste or how restful sleep can be after a toke.

People have been smoking hash on the subcontinent for centuries.
It predates the arrival of Islam in the region, with reference to cannabis appearing in the sacred Hindu Atharva Veda text describing its medicinal and ritual uses.

According to a 2013 UN survey, cannabis was the most widely consumed drug in Pakistan with around four million users, representing 3.6 per cent of the population – a figure that has drawn scepticism in a country where reliable data can be hard to come by.

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