LEGAL STATUS OF CANNABIS IN INDIA
World has started accepting cannabis and legalising its use. The research on benefits that the plant holds. Cannabis is a plant with psychoactive properties. Indian has been using cannabis for different purposes like industrial, medical and religious. In Indian, many names were given to the plant. The most famous ones are ganja, bhang, hemp, charas. However, most widely used kind of cannabis in India is in the form of bhang which is used to make “thandai”. This is an auspicious drink that’s consumed during festivals like Holi, Mahashivratri and the Hola Mohalla Sikh Festival, etc, However, the main concern is in the uncertainty if are cannabis legal in India?
Cannabis in India is illegal under the Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. A central law which governs the consumption of cannabis. The act has maintained the same definition of cannabis that excludes bhang from its prospects. According to NDPS section 2(3) “cannabis” means:
charas, that is, the separated resin, in whatever form, whether crude or purified, obtained from the cannabis plant, and includes concentrated preparation and resin known as hashish oil or liquid hashish;
(b) ganja, that is, the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant (excluding the seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops), by whatever name they may be known or designated; and
any mixture, with or without any neutral material, of any of the above forms of cannabis or any drink, prepared from there;
Until 1986, all cannabis products were legally on sale in India. The United States of America considered the plant as a hard drug and it started a worldwide campaign to adopt single convention on Narcotic Drug in the year 1961. More than 25 years lates out of pressure from the US government, India gave in demands and it execute the NDPS act in 1986. However, different states in India have different laws for the consumption of this plant. For example, Uttarakhand became the 1st state to legalise the consumption of cannabis for commercial cultivation. In Odisha, the use of this plant is made legal. In Maharashtra section 66(1)(b) of Bombay Prohibition Act of 1949 doesn’t allow the manufacturing, possession as well as consumption of non-licensed bhang and substances that contain bhang. On February 21, 2017, Gujarat made bhang legal by discarding it from the list of “intoxicating drugs”. This is covered under section 23 of the Gujarat Prohibition Act. So, India has slowly started accepting this fact that cannabis is a beneficial plant and it has commercial as well as medical use.
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT FOR CARRYING CANNABIS IN INDIA?
The roots of cannabis in India were traced all the way back in the 1700 BCS that is approximately 5000 years ago. India has strict laws against the consumption of cannabis. Even caught holding a small quantity of cannabis will land you into trouble. According to section 20 of the NDPS Act, 1985. Holding a small quantity for recreational purpose can land you up in prison for up to 6 months or a fine of Rs.10,000 or both. Conversely if a person is found addicted to such substance will not be prosecuted if he decided to undergo treatment. In the case of commercial quantity, (20kgs). The punishment is very harsh imprisonment for 10 to 20 years of a fine of Rs.1 to 2 lakh or both.
MARKET FOR CANNABIS IN INDIA
India has a wide market for cannabis plat and with reports that predict the global cannabis market to reach $146.6 billion by the end of 2025. India needs to take this chance to boost the economy in such problematic times. In the state of Himachal Pradesh, around 100,000kgs of cannabis is manufactured and out of that only 500kgs are seized yearly. The government is content on surviving on crumbs, while other eat the bread. India should make cannabis legal and add extra income in the state’s pocket. This can help the farmers as the plant is a cash-crop. It is easy to grow and it needs minimum water.
Indian government has started its research on the benefits of Cannabis. Many countries have allowed the use of medical cannabis. India has the world’s most chronic pain cases. There is ample of proof to highlight the therapeutic properties of cannabis. It has the capacity to alleviate chronic pain, Alzheimer’s disease, loss of appetite, cancer, Crohn’s disease, eating disorders and mental health conditions like schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.
It was on 1st February, 202, India’s first medical Cannabis Clinic was opened in Bangalore. The Vedi Wellness Centre regards to open to new ideas and methods of treatment. This is where the Great Legalisation Move started. If we see Ayurveda, the cannabis plant has been used for medical purposes.