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Cannabis Abuse in India: Strategies and Support for Safe Use

Updated: Aug 27, 2023


Cannabis plant with buds closeup
Source: Unslpash
  • Around 275 million people used drugs worldwide in the last year, while over 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders, according to the 2021 World Drug Report

  • Cannabis is one of the most commonly used substances in India, after Alcohol.

  • As per NDDTC about 2.8% of Indians aged 10-75 years (3.1 crore individuals) are current users of any cannabis product about 0.66% (72 Lakh individuals) are problem users and 0.25% (25 Lakh individuals) are dependent users.

  • Sikkim (7.3%) has the highest usage rate and the lowest is seen in Pondicherry (0.0%).


Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a psychoactive drug derived from the Cannabis plant. It is commonly used for both recreational and medicinal purposes but can also be abused. Cannabis abuse refers to using the drug in harmful ways, such as excessive use, using it in risky situations, or letting it interfere with daily life and responsibilities. The active ingredient in cannabis, THC, can lead to altered senses, mood changes, impaired memory and judgment, and difficulties in thinking and problem-solving. Such effects can be particularly dangerous when operating machinery or driving.

Prevalence and Usage

In 2016, it was estimated that 27.5 crore people globally used illicit drugs like cannabis, amphetamines, opioids, and cocaine, with an annual prevalence of 5.6%. Cannabis is used by 19.2 crore users worldwide. In India, cannabis is used in various forms, including legal Bhang and illegal Charas & Ganja. About 2% of Indians use Bhang, and 1.2% use Charas/Ganja. Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, and Delhi have higher-than-national prevalence rates. Sikkim has the highest usage rate at 7.3%, while Pondicherry has the lowest at 0.0%.

Illustration of cannabis use in India state wise
"National average of Cannabis use" - Highlighted Red

In India, Cannabis is used as Bhang which is legal in many states, and as Charas & Ganja which are illegal as per the International Drug Conventions as well as the NDPS Act, of 1985. However different states have their laws relating to the consumption, possession, sale, or purchase of weed or marijuana. After alcohol, Cannabis and Opioids are the next commonly used substances in India. As per NDDTC about 2.8% of Indians aged 10-75 years (3.1 crore individuals) are current users of any cannabis product and about 0.66% (72 Lakh individuals) are problem users and 0.25% (25 Lakh individuals) are dependent users. More people use bhang (2%) as compared to Charas/Ganja (1.2%). One in sixteen users of bhang was dependent on cannabis, as compared to one in seven users of ganja/Charas. There is a preponderance of men among consumers of cannabis.

In the case of cannabis use, the variations across the states are visible. States with a higher-than-national prevalence of cannabis use are Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim, Chhattisgarh, and Delhi. Interestingly, there is not necessarily a consistent association between the prevalence figures for bhang and ganja/charas use across different states. In general, the trend in most of the states of the country has a higher prevalence of bhang as compared to ganja /Charas. However, the reverse trend is visible in some of the eastern and northeastern states (like West Bengal, Bihar, Sikkim, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Meghalaya). Among states, Sikkim (7.3%) has the highest usage rate and the lowest is seen in Pondicherry (0.0%).

FUN FACT: Recently, India was considered as a country for transit of the drugs from Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent. As the Golden Crescent has a much longer history of opium production than Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle.

The Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle of world drugs
Image Source: Wikipedia

Strategies for the Safe Use of Cannabis / Preventing Cannabis Abuse India

So, how can we prevent cannabis abuse and ensure the safe use of the plant? Here are a few strategies :

  1. Educate yourself about the risks and potential negative consequences of cannabis abuse. Understanding the dangers of abuse can help you make informed decisions about your own use or help you recognize when someone you know may be at risk.

  2. Set limits and boundaries for yourself. If you do choose to use cannabis, it's important to do so in moderation and to be aware of your own limits. Consider setting a maximum amount that you will use in a given day or week, and be sure to pay attention to how you feel after using the drug.

  3. Seek support if you feel like your cannabis use is becoming problematic. If you feel like your use is interfering with your daily life or causing negative consequences, it may be helpful to seek support from a healthcare professional or addiction specialist. These professionals can help you address the issue and find healthy ways to manage your use.

  4. Consider alternative methods of consuming cannabis. Smoking cannabis can be harmful to your respiratory system, so consider other methods of consumption such as vaporizing or consuming edibles.

  5. Be aware of the legal status of cannabis in your area. In some places, cannabis is illegal or only legal for medicinal use. It's important to be aware of the laws in your area and to use the drug responsibly and within legal limits.

By following these strategies and seeking support when needed, you can help in Preventing Cannabis Abuse in India and ensure the safe use of the plant.


man holding cannabis leaf in front of the rising sun

Cannabis is known for its benefits worldwide, but abusing it is not an option. Although there are only a few pieces of research around the world that prove the effect of cannabis on neurophysiological functioning. Various surveys conducted from time to time regarding cannabis use among the population can provide useful information about the extent and pattern of cannabis use.

At present, there is a need for time to conduct studies to know about the use, effect, and demand of Cannabis in India so the appropriate actions and legislation can be formed by the Government. India can develop its economic, medical, and cultural prospects by legalizing cannabis and common people should be aware of its benefits and drawbacks.

It's important to note that while cannabis may have potential therapeutic benefits, it is not without risks. It's important to use cannabis responsibly and to be aware of the potential negative consequences of abuse. If you or someone you know is struggling with cannabis abuse, it's important to seek help from a qualified healthcare professional or specialist.

The decision is ours to take.

Knowledge makes people wise, &

wise people make wise decisions.

If you want to know more about the medical benefits of the cannabis plant, then check out "The Cannabis Health Index: Combining the Science of Medical Marijuana with Mindfulness Techniques To Heal 100 Chronic Symptoms and Diseases",


Susrut Dube, Neha Dhingra. An overview:

prevalence of cannabis abuse in India. International Journal of

Contemporary Medical Research 2020

Ambekar A, Agrawal A, Rao R, Mishra AK, Khandelwal SK, Chadda RK on behalf of the group of investigators for the National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India (2019). The magnitude of Substance Use in India. New Delhi: Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment,

Government of India


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