Marijuana has been a part of Indian culture and festivities for centuries. The medicinal lobby of the US created a lot of pressure under the Government of India on the creation of rigid narcotic laws that implied any production, sale and transport of marijuana illegal in the country.
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985 had banned marijuana.
The argument on whether to legalise Marijuana or not is on ever since. But enforcing the law has not quite yielded the purpose of prevention of the use of this drug.
The Cannabis sativa plant parts such as leaves(dry), stems, flowers and seeds are referred to as Marijuana. After alcohol and tobacco, Marijuana is the most common drug.
It is widespread amongst all ages of people, especially the younger generation. The plant contains a crystalline compound that is the main active ingredient of cannabis, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) that creates the mind-altering phenomenon and people turn high.
Marijuana should be de-criminalised rather than legalised. De-criminalising marijuana will let the farmers plant it in their fields or the outskirts and can be bought by companies. Instead, if it is legalized, only about 2 or 3 people will get permission to plant it on thousands of acres of land and they will take over the business as well.
This is a huge business awaiting for India and it is India’s right to claim ownership of that.
“When I was in college, I have smoked this stuff, it is not addictive, I can vouch for it and when I left smoking, I had no physical problems and today I do not smoke but I have never missed it also, which I will not claim for alcohol or any other drugs, even cigarettes.” – Tathagata Satpathy, Ex-MP, BJD.
Whereas, in the case of alcohol or nicotine, symptoms of bad withdrawal are evident.
But for some stuck up minds and some elitists, it is alright to drink alcohol and commit domestic violence but getting buzzed by consuming marijuana is not something they can tolerate.
Marginal or medium commerce can use it as a cash crop. Farmers can earn money by growing marijuana who do not smoke themselves.
• Cannabis has medicinal value.
• Clothes, ropes, different fibres are made of HEMP(stem of cannabis).
• Marijuana lessens cancer pain.
• Alcohol and nicotine make an impact more than cannabis does.
• Cannabis is a safer stimulation.
• Can get over Rs. 600 Crore revenue per year from Cannabis.
Even after all of these, marijuana is illegal then why not alcohol and tobacco?
The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) has reclassified cannabis, removing it from the category of most dangerous drugs according to a release based on WHO recommendations, 2019 on, marijuana and its derivatives.
According to multiple recommendations by WHO’s expert committee on drug dependence, the non-intoxication compound Cannabidiol (CBD) does not need to be subjected to international controls.
Cannabidiol has even gained prominence in the wellness industry.
In India, a discussion around CBD oil cropped up during the questioning of actor Deepika Padukone by the NCB (Narcotics Control Bureau). Some Indian websites even reportedly sell CBD oil online with a prescription. In September 2020, Rhea Chakraborty was arrested by the NCB for allegedly purchasing Marijuana.
Marijuana had been on a strictly controlled schedule for 59 years until the 53 member state of CND (Commission on Narcotic Drugs) voted to remove it.
As per the United Nations (UN) Commission, cannabis is no longer a deadly and addictive opioid including heroin, in the schedule of 1961.
“CND has opened the door to recognizing the medicinal and therapeutic potential of the commonly used but still largely illegal recreational drug”.
In 2018, Uttarakhand is the first Indian state to legalise the cultivation of cannabis hemp for industrial purposes.
A treaty of 1961, criminalized weed as ‘hard drugs’ in India but left its by-product Bhang out of the purview. India had 25 years to internally regulate the usage of recreational drugs under the treaty.
There are provisions for use of Charas, ganja under India’s NDPS Act, 1985.
Consuming Bhang is a common practice in some parts of the country mostly during Holi.
People found in possession of or involved in cannabis production or sale or purchase are prosecuted under law bearing medical and scientific use. Although the police sometimes tend to overlook the matter in lieu of money, if they want to make an arrest, they can. Possession of marijuana or any drugs is a criminal offence and it is cognizable and non-bailable.
The penalty is of this offence is dependant on the quantity of the drug. The small and commercial quantity of various drugs in India are as follows:
• Heroine: 5 grams – 250 grams
• Hashish or Charas: 100 grams – 1 kg
• Ganja: 1 kg – 20 kgs
• Opium: 25 grams – 2.5 kgs
• Cocaine: 25 grams – 2.5 kgs
Purchase/sale, production, interstate import/export, transportation or any other commercial activity of cannabis is punishable as per section 20 of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
The prescribed punishment for holding a small quantity is rigorous imprisonment for up to 6 months, a fine of Rs. 10,000 or both.
The prescribed punishment for holding more than a small quantity but less than the commercial quantity is rigorous imprisonment for up to 10 years, a fine of Rs. 1lakh, or both.
The prescribed punishment for holding commercial quantity is rigorous imprisonment for up to 10-20 years, a fine of Rs. 1-2 lakh, or both.
If someone allows their premise to be used for such an offence, that person would be liable under section 25 of the NDPS Act and will be awarded the same punishment mentioned under section 20.
The WHO counts Cannabis as the most trafficked illicit drug in the world. As per the UN, over 50 countries currently allow medicinal cannabis programs.
Canada, Uruguay, and 15 American states have allowed its recreational use.
Making Marijuana illicit in India has been of no good, still, there are many users, abusers present all over the country. It is impossible to make people stop consuming it because it is somewhat everywhere. It is a hardy plant that needs no tendering and India might as well, could sell it and bring about huge economic stability for itself.