The usage of Marijuana in India can be traced back to 1700 BC. Yes, you heard that right! According to numerous ancient scriptures, cannabis has been consumed in India for medical uses as well as religious and spiritual purposes since the dawn of time.
People in India have been consuming marijuana for more than 5000 years now, albeit in different forms and different ways. They are popularly used as a joint with hand-rolled paper or water pipes. Whether as weed, charas, cannabis, ganja, or bhang, marijuana has evolved and been used in India for centuries.
Legal Status of Cannabis in India
It will be hard to believe, but usage and consumption of cannabis were legal in India till about three decades back! It was recently in the year 1985 that the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) declared it illegal to cultivate, sell and purchase cannabis, resin, and flower in India. NDPS passes the central law across the nation. However, the laws also depend on various States and their ministries.
According to section 10 of the NDPS act, each state of India has the authority to make its laws concerning the manufacturing, trade, sale, consumption, production, possession, and export of cannabis. Some examples of States utilising this section are Uttarakhand and Orissa. In 2018, Uttarakhand became India’s first state that legalized hemp cultivation for commercial purposes. Orissa went a step ahead and legalized the smoking of weed, which is why smoking ‘chillums’ in Orissa is considered very common.
Medicinal Usage of Cannabis in India
India’s oldest and original medical system ‘Ayurveda’ mentions the usage and benefits of cannabis extensively. Although medical marijuana can be bought with a prescription at many places globally, India didn’t have a legal weed dispensary until very recently, even if it was solely for medicinal usage.
However, due to the Government’s recent clearance, slowly and steadily, many health tech start-ups are slowly popping up in India that are conducting extensive research and sale in the Ayurvedic Cannabis sector. Many of them are exploring the usage and consumption of cannabis for chronic pain relief and pain management.
Medical supplements typically consist of cannabidiol (CBD) as well as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While CBD has links to pain relief, THC is linked to getting someone high when they smoke marijuana. India has made it illegal to isolate CBD and THC, except for research.
Depiction of Marijuana in India
The usage of cannabis has been depicted in Indian movies extensively. In the 90s, Indian movies have portrayed the consumption of cannabis in a negative way, where hippies or criminals use it. Post-2000, some famous movies have also shown cannabis been used by middle-class or upper-class people for relaxation and recreational usage in India. Some movies also focused on the illegal trade and consumption of marijuana prevalent in India.
Marijuana has many benefits, and having an absolute ban on it can be an obstacle for a growing and modern economy. However, since the last few years, the United States has been proactive in legalizing the usage of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes, thus giving rise to several active campaigns that push the legalization of cannabis in India.