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Sri Lanka parliamentarian calls for cannabis legalization

A Sri Lankan parliamentarian has urged the government to legalize cannabis cultivation amid protests by religious leaders. Diana Gamage, a government lawmaker, said cannabis cultivation can solve the foreign exchange crisis by bringing in billions of dollars to the country.

"The country can be freed from debt through the legalization and export of cannabis cultivation," she said in parliament on November 16. "We do not have to beg or borrow money from anyone. This resource given by nature should be legalized and exported with state patronage to earn foreign exchange."

Some political parties like the Social Democratic Party (SDP) along with indigenous doctors had urged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to legalize cannabis for self-immunization.

Religious leaders criticized the government move last year. Ven. Ittapana Dhammalankara Thera, the chief prelate of Kotte Sri Kalayani Samagri Dharma Maha Sangha of Siyam Maha Nikaya, called for immediate action to stop the promotion of cannabis. Cannabis cultivation is banned in Sri Lanka even though it is allowed to be grown in sufficient quantities for use as an Ayurvedic traditional medicine. 

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