Updated: May 10
Cannabis is a sun-loving plant that is known to have originated in the steppes of Central Asia and was brought to India through human migration between 2000 and 1000 BCE . Cannabis is illegal in India, but its prevalence is remarkable across the social and spiritual landscape of India . Cannabis is deeply intertwined with religion in India, and one of the principal deities, Shiva, is given the sobriquet ‘Lord of Bhang’ . Cannabis is usually consumed for its relaxing and calming effect . According to a 2019 study, about 7.2 million Indians had consumed cannabis within the past year, and 2.83% of Indians aged 10-75 years (or 31 million people) were current users of cannabis products . The use of cannabis for medicinal and research purposes is permissible under the current Indian law .
 The Indian Express: Cannabis in India: A rather long story with its highs and lows
 Wikipedia: Cannabis (drug)
 Wikipedia: Cannabis in India
[4 PubMed Central: Medical Cannabis in India: A forward-looking lens for patients and clinicians]
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985 is a law in India that prohibits the production, manufacturing, cultivation, possession, sale, purchasing, transport, storage, and/or consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance . This act has been criticized by policymakers, journalists, and academicians for being archaic, overbearing, and flawed when it comes to regulating cannabis use in India. Places in Himachal Pradesh like Kasol, Tosh, and other villages where cannabis grows wild and/or has been cultivated for a long time have attained global fame for cannabis tourism. The traditional use of cannabis as medicine and enjoyment paired with its recent profit potential have ensured that almost all families are involved with cannabis in one way or the other, inadvertently giving immense power to NCB and its agents as it creates a large pool of potential criminals amongst whom one can pick and choose as one pleases .
The NDPS Act has been a subject of debate for a long time, and many experts believe that it needs to be reformed to address the changing times and the needs of the people. The act needs to be more nuanced and considerate of the cultural and traditional practices of the people. The government needs to take a more holistic approach to the issue and consider the economic, social, and health implications of the act. The government should also consider legalizing cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes, which can help generate revenue and create job opportunities. The government should also invest in research to understand the potential benefits and risks of cannabis use and develop policies that are evidence-based and informed by science. In conclusion, the NDPS Act needs to be reformed to address the changing times and the needs of the people. The government needs to take a more nuanced and considerate approach to the issue and consider legalizing cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes.
1: Wikipedia page on the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985
2: PubMed Central article on the NDPS Act of 1985
According to a 2019 study commissioned by the social justice and empowerment ministry, cannabis consumption in India is quite high, with 31 million people having consumed a cannabis product in the past year, of which 13 million had used weed and hash.
The study also found that cannabis consumption was higher in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim, Chhattisgarh, and Delhi than the national average. In fact, a 2018 study by German data firm ABCD placed Delhi third on the list of 120 cities with the highest consumption of cannabis, ahead of Los Angeles, Chicago, and London. Mumbai was sixth on the list.
The prevalence of cannabis use in India was 3.2% in 2000, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). However, the "Magnitude of Substance Use in India 2019" survey found that 2.83% of Indians aged 10–75 years (or 31 million people) were current users of cannabis products. The retail price of cannabis in India was US$0.10 per gram, the lowest of any country in the world, according to the UNODC's World Drug report 2016. The Paharganj area in Delhi is known for its wide variety of cannabis products, including Idukki Gold, Shillong Mango, Mysore Mango, and Malana Kush.
According to experts, cannabis consumption has become a casual and affordable drug among the youth in India, with an entire generation regarding it as harmless and even spiritual . Despite being prohibited, cannabis remains the most commonly used illicit psychoactive substance in the country .
However, locals complain that state institutions, including the NCB and local police, focus on prosecuting cannabis growers and dealers, which are easy to apprehend, instead of addressing more pressing issues like growing crime and lack of infrastructure and medical services . This has led to a belief in local society that state institutions largely ignore more pressing issues .
The historical and sociocultural context of cannabis use in India dates back to 5000-4000 BC . However, there is a dearth of literature and research on cannabis policy in India, and there has been only a limited and restricted discussion on the issue . Some experts argue for the need to initiate a discussion on the regulatory framework for cannabis in the Indian context .
1 SAGE Publications: Cannabis use among a community sample of drug users in Delhi, India
2 Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy: The case for decriminalising cannabis use in India
3 PubMed Central: Medical Cannabis in India: A forward-looking lens for patients and clinicians
Cannabis use in India is not a secret, with people from all walks of life using it. However, some media channels and agencies have been using cannabis as a tool to attack individuals and groups they don't like. While cannabis cultivation for industrial purposes is legal in India, the government is strict with its policy on cannabis.
According to Section 20 of the NDPS Act, holding a small quantity of weed can land you in jail for rigorous imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to Rs. 10,000. A report by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment found that 2.83% of Indians aged 10-75 years (or 31 million people) were current users of cannabis products, with 10% of the population considered to be using cannabis "in a dependent pattern". The legalization of cannabis in India has been a topic of debate for a long time.
Some organizations, such as the Great Legalization Movement India, aim to make cannabis legal for its industrial and medicinal uses. However, any attempt to legalize cannabis must be followed up with an open dialogue on drugs with young people, to make them aware of responsible and safe consumption. It's a tough call, but India must settle the debate on whether or not to legalize the use of cannabis, sooner rather than later. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_in_India