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Legal Standing Of India Towards Marijuana

In a civil society, consuming drugs is not only immoral but also illegal. Many people consider drugs to be the destroyer of family and community. People who consume it in the name of escaping the horrors of reality have not only harmed their health but have also harmed their relationships with their friends and family members.

If we look at the West, particularly the urban juggernauts (LA, New York, Miami, etc.) in the United States, or the Page 3 lifestyle of India's metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, we often see the darker aspects of popular culture. We see how the celebrity culture in Hollywood and Bollywood is engrained with alcoholism, ego problems, and above all, drug abuse.

The most high-profile case regarding celebrity drug abuse was the Sushant Singh Rajput Case. When the actor died by suicide in June 2020, many people speculated that his girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty has something to do with his death. Many people brought up the reason for the consumption of drugs. So when Chakraborty was summoned by the Narcotics Control Bureau, the media gathered around the woman like vultures. The behavior of the media during the case was questioned by many.

The drug that gets the center of attention by all is cannabis or marijuana. For students it is a relaxation from the worst of reality, for parents, it is their worst nightmare as they believe that their child will be spoilt. For supporters, it is a medicinal drug that reportedly helps cure cancer, and for the laws in India, it is somewhere in between.

Marijuana is the most popular, yet polarized drug in India. On a global scale countries like Georgia, Mexico, Canada, and even North Korea have legalized the use of marijuana. India is somewhere between Legal and Illegal. Bylaws, marijuana is illegal but it is not entirely enforced especially in the case of the sale of bhang. But before we talk about the legality of marijuana, we must first understand what marijuana is and how advantageous and dangerous they are.

What is Marijuana? What are their advantages and disadvantages?

Marijuana serves as a drug that came from the plant Cannabis. The drug is highly popular for its recreational, entheogenic, and medicinal purposes. The drug has been used for smoking, eating, and vaping. The use of marijuana is so popular that as of 2013, around 2.7% of 4.9% of the world's population consume marijuana. The age group of the said consumption is 15 to 65 years old. The use of marijuana is highest in the United States, Canada, Zambia, and Nigeria. The effect of marijuana can last from two hours to six hours.

The main advantage of the usage of marijuana is its medical use can calm children with disabilities especially those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Supporters state that marijuana helps them with insomnia, epilepsy, and chronic pain.

Detractors say that the biggest disadvantage of the usage of marijuana is that it is a drug. And like most drugs, it can be subject to misuse and addiction.

Supporters say that weed helps improve the state of people who have cancer. Researchers claim that cannabis can destroy cancer cells.

It can have severe health effects like damage to the lungs. It can also affect the mouth and eyes by making them dry and red respectively in the short run. Some even say that marijuana can even cause low blood pressure, liver disease, and diabetes. A person's testosterone levels can be decreased if used heavily which might affect the quality and quantity of sperm.
Certain studies state that consuming marijuana might improve the mood of people. It could help let go of pain, anxiety, and nausea.

It can cause psychological problems like:
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Schizophrenia

Another advantage marijuana has is that it can treat the appetite loss of those who have HIV/AIDs or they have cancer. It also plays a role in relaxing the muscles of the people.
It can cause problems in a person's cognitive system. Sometimes, it can affect the driving skills of a person and cause traffic accidents.

People can consume marijuana in other ways like edibles, relief treatments, etc.

The heavy use of marijuana can affect women who are pregnant.

Some studies even suggest that marijuana can eliminate nightmares, increase the creativity of a person, and it can even maintain the figure of a person.
Marijuana is still illegal in many parts of the world, especially in most states in the United States and India.

The legality of Marijuana in India

On paper, marijuana is illegal in India. Under the provisions of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985, a person possessing a small amount of marijuana (1kg) will be imprisoned for six months or have to pay a fine of Rs 10,000. At the same time, the use of bhang which is a liquid form of cannabis is excluded from Section 2 (iii) of the said act. The Indian government allows the sale of bhang although, some states like Assam, Gujarat, Maharastra, and Karnataka have banned the use and sale of bhang (Gujarat late decriminalized it in 2017).

In Arjun Singh vs the State of Haryana, the Chandigarh High Court observed that bhang s not cannabis (hemp) under the provisions given under NDPS Act although it is a cannabis plant. Thus it is not necessarily unlawful to eat cannabis under the said rule.

The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961 wanted to declare cannabis as a hard drug. However, India objected during the negotiations because of the impact of marijuana on social and religious traditions. The said act also legalizes the sale of rolling papers, smoking pipes, etc. because they are not mentioned. The use of marijuana as industrial hemp during its horticulture practice is also legal.

Why People the Legalization of Marijuana

Popular politician Shashi Tharoor wrote a piece on The Print, stating that India should embrace the health, business, and wider benefits in society by legal regulation of cannabis. An organization called Great Legalization Movement India aims to make cannabis legal for its industrial and medicinal uses. In 2017 the organization sent a letter to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and all members of Parliament regarding the legalization of cannabis. The Prime Minister's office has sent a reply that they will look through the matter.

In 2019, the Delhi High Court agreed to listen to the petition made by the Great Legalization Movement India Trust. The organization challenged the ban on cannabis stating that the NDPS Act's restrictions are arbitrary, unscientific, and unreasonable.

An editorial by the Indian Express suggested the legalization of Cannabis through regulations like alcohol and tobacco products. The Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh stated in 2021 that he wanted to bring up policies that could allow the cultivation of cannabis which could boost the local economy of Himachal Pradesh. Even the State Government shares the sentiment. For now, the Tripura Government stated that they would form an expert panel to see through the benefits of legalizing cannabis.

We call India the largest democracy in the world. In a democratic country, society is dynamic. In other words, it changes with the passage of time. What was once reviled, will now be accepted. Obviously, in the case of marijuana, India's first cannabis clinic opened in Bangalore. It doesn't mean that the country will automatically legalize marijuana. With the post-Sushant Case bandwagon, it's highly unlikely that people will universally support the legalization of marijuana.

That does not mean we should not give up hope. If the government oversees the good and bad aspects of marijuana and legalizes it through a thorough process and when they come to conclusion on how to regulate marijuana at the same time, giving the purpose it deserves, it might change the way of society as we look at it.

  • Cannabis in India
  • Sushant Singh Rajput drugs case: Quick Explainer on why Rhea Chakraborty, brother Showik Chakraborty named in NCB charge sheet
  • Tripura to form expert panel to examine viability of legalising cannabis
  • Clear the smoke
  • Great Legalisation Movement India
  • High time India, the land of bhang, legalises marijuana
  • Delhi HC to examine plea to legalise cannabis use
  • Explained: Why is Himachal Pradesh planning to legalise cannabis cultivation?
  • Problem of Outrage Culture & Social Media Trials: Sushant Singh's Case
  • Hollywood and drug abuse
  • Drug Abuse Very Widespread In Bollywood
  • Legality of cannabis
  • Cannabis Laws in North Korea: They Will Definitely Blow Your Mind
  • Cannabis (drug)
  • Autism: A General Summary
  • Weed Smoking: Weigh the Pros & Cons
  • Pros and Cons of Medical Marijuana
  • The Narcotic Drugs And Psychotropic Substances, Act, 1985
  • Is Marijuana Legal In India?
  • Legalization of Marijuana: India v. World
  • Medicinal cannabis: What it is, its legal status in India and everything you need to know
  • India's First Medical Cannabis Clinic Is Finally Here
My name is Anish Bachchan and I'm a 5th Year Law Student at Amity Law School, Noida. I have published my various writings in The Los Angeles Times, The Times of India, Live Wire, Youth Ki Awaaz, Legal Service India, and Law Corner. I have also published two books i.e.
  1. Patent 101 Level 1: Understanding Patent of Aggressive Monetization of Video Games
  2. Contempt of Court with References to Media Trials

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