Marijuana – Making India Healthy, Wealthy And Wise

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Marijuana is the most widely used illegal ‘drug’ in the world and is readily available in India. Very recently, the Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi suggested legalising marijuana, a psychoactive drug, in India for medical purposes on the lines of the practice adopted by some developed countries like the US to curb drug abuse.


But, marijuana was not always banned in India. Until the 1980s, India consumed marijuana without any stigma. It was freely available and even distributed by government-endorsed retail outlets. Charas (hash), bhang and weed have also been historically bound to faith and mysticism in India and is first mentioned in the Atharvaveda, which dates back a few hundred years BC.


However, the “War on Drugs” campaign launched by the US during the 1970s, pressurised India to put a ban on its production and usage.  Finally, in 1985, the Rajiv Gandhi government passed the “Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act” or NDPS Act,  and put a ban on the production and sale of cannabis resin and flowers.

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There is one thing, however, that needs to be understood clearly here. Though cannabis has had a debatable reputation, there is a difference between recreational and medical marijuana – medical marijuana has high Cannabidiol or CBD content while recreational marijuana is more on the Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. CDB is the ingredient of marijuana that makes it medical. The higher the CBD, the lower the strength of high your marijuana can provide. THC, on the other hand, is another ingredient of marijuana and it is what is making it psychoactive.


But, because of the NDPS Act, the consumption of cannabis could lead to a jail term of six months or a fine of Rs10,000, while illegal production and cultivation can be punished with a jail term of up to 10 years.


Weed and medicine have a very old relationship. Apart from preventing cancer from spreading to other parts of the body, medical marijuana is used to treat glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, arthritis, anxiety and depression. It also decreases the symptoms of a severe seizure disorder known as Dravet’s Syndrome and helps reverse the carcinogenic effects of tobacco and improve lung health. Now, isn’t that wow?!

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Despite the ban, it is no surprise that cannabis is still widely grown and sold in India. So, if the Indian government legalizes, regulates and taxes weed, it can help generate considerable revenue, that otherwise go to Italian and Israeli drug cartels. The Colorado government that legalised the sale of marijuana in November, 2012, has projected a staggering $98 million in tax revenue by the end of 2014. Legalising marijuana will end this ‘war on our own farmers’. In states like Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, where cannabis plants grow, marijuana is the only source of income for many locals. However, because cannabis is illegal, the poor farmers are left with no choice but to sell it at low prices to drug dealers, who in turn, earn huge profits. Growing cannabis has other benefits too – it is used to make paper, fuel, soap, rope, maps, net, lace, jute bags, oil for lightning, paint, animal food, lotions, etc., hence, bettering the lives of our farmers and unemployed youths by increasing employment.


Purchasing marijuana is perhaps one of the easiest tasks to do. There are vendors in every corner imaginable. Regulation of these vendors will not only stop funnelling money into illegal activities, but will also help in maintaining the quality of purchase. The weed that is available today is highly adulterated (because of the gap in demand and supply ratio) with rat poison and shoe polish for they burn the same way. One may argue that recreational marijuana spells doom, but The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission found that the “moderate” use of cannabis was “practically attended by no evil results at all”, “produces no injurious effects on the mind” and “no moral injury whatever”. Regarding “excessive” use of the drug, the Commission concluded that it “may certainly be accepted as very injurious, though it must be admitted that in many excessive consumers the injury is not clearly marked”. Also, if our country can openly sell alcohol and tobacco/tobacco related products, marijuana should also be made legal, and I am not just saying it. A recent study shows that marijuana consumption can be safer than alcohol and tobacco consumption.


If there is a certain sense of fear that legalising weed would make it readily accessible to youth, please refer the the paragraph above. WEED IS EVERYWHERE! By legalising cannabis, the government can set an age limit for its consumption and apply driving rules just the same way it has in case of alcohol consumption.

The NDPS Act is definitely outdated and I do not see why the government should not legalize a culturally accepted substance that can boost the health of the country as well as lift the current socio-economic conditions.

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