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Trade On Marijuana In India- A Critical Analysis

Marijuana should be made legal in India because whether it is legal or not, people are going to do it anyway. Marijuana is not a hard drug, it is a soft drug and should not be included in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act since in this act there is no distinction made between soft drugs and hard drugs. The main objectives are that we have to realize why Marijuana was banned and what was the history behind the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

We have to know what happened after Marijuana got banned which means we have to analyze the past scenario as well as the present scenario. After analyzing these, we can come to a conclusion about what needs to be done in the present. We also have to understand whether Marijuana is useful for our health or is it a poison to human beings.

The research contains the laws relating to Marijuana, reports about the effects of Marijuana, statistics about trading of Marijuana in India. So the research contains a Phenomenologist approach and the method which is taken for this research is a doctrinal research method since the research is relying on secondary sources of data. The research believes that the trading of Marijuana should be legal but too much of anything is good for nothing.

There is no other country like India where weed has been such an integral part of religion and society. Cannabis in India is broadly classified into two parts- the Cannabis plant and the Hemp. Hemp is also known as Charas. Hash or Hashish is prepared from the resin of the Cannabis plant. 'Ganja' is the flowering fruit tops procured from this plant. Food or drink infused with a ground cannabis paste is called Bhang. Bhang is a popular drink consumed during Holi and is not counted in the definition of Cannabis in India.

Tetra Hydro Cannabinol or THC is the main psychoactive compound in weed which gives us the feeling of being 'high'. There is another substance in weed called CBD or Cannabidiol which is non-psychoactive. This means that CBD can cancel out THC's euphoric-at-times-psychosis-inducing high. It would come as a shock to all but Marijuana was legal in India before 1985, before the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act came in action.

Research Question
To what degree India is following the duties imposed by the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act?
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 commonly known as the NDPS Act that prohibits the manufacturing, owning, dealing, transporting or consuming of psychotropic substances. This act was made with the help of former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi.

There were no changes after Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act put in effect. In fact, the consumption of Marijuana increased day by day. Like, in 2018, according to a German data firm ABCD, New Delhi and Mumbai were among the top 10 cities which consumed maximum amount of weed.[1]

More than hundred tonnes of ganja is being seized everyday in India and the number of tonnes keeps on increasing day by day and does not intend to stop. Now if we think that Marijuana is banned because of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, then we are totally wrong because it is completely available in the black market.

In most cases if the police catch us possessing a limited amount of weed, they will let us off after taking a small bribe. Most colleges in India have a significant number of students who have smoked weed or seen someone else smoke weed. After Marijuana got banned in India, its market increased rapidly. There is still illegal production of Cannabis in Malana village.[2]

In recent years, if we look at some other countries except India, marijuana has been legalized in some form or the other across most of the US, many European countries, Argentina, Mexico, Canada, Portugal, Brazil, Australia, Turkey and many others.

The total worldwide market of legal and illegal Cannabis is around 344 billion dollars and the global market for legal Cannabis is expected to reach 145 billion by 2025 according to the research done by India times. American pharmaceutical companies make painkillers and other medicines from Marijuana and sell them at higher price. So banning Marijuana will ruin their business.[3]

Advocate Aditya Barthakur had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Bombay high court challenging the prohibition of Marijuana under Indian law, in which no government organs including, ministry of health and family welfare, legislative department of the law ministry, Central Bureau of Narcotics had any idea about how the herb is harmful to the human body. According to the Public Interest Litigation, not one person has ever died from consuming marijuana. Advocate Aditya Barthakur had tried to draw attention of the High Court that cannabis had always been an essential part of Hindu culture.[4]

We were forced to illegalize weed by the western countries. Now they itself after realizing the usefulness of weed, have legalized weed in some parts of the country and is still in the process of trying to legalize weed in other parts of the country. Cannabis has been in our culture for centuries. People's life is being ruined continuously by permitting substances like tobacco and cigarette but something that is so natural and more spiritual is being separated and drawn out from the society.

Historical Background of Marijuana
In around 1500s we can find many doctors wrote books on the usefulness of Marijuana like, in 1534 Garcia de Orta wrote a book, �Colloquies on the Simples and Drugs and Medicinal Matters of India and of a Few Fruit� about the usefulness of bhang and also around 1959, Cristobal Acosta wrote a book, �A Tract about the Drugs and Medicines of the East Indies� about recipes for bhang.

Then in 1798, the British government imposed taxes on Marijuana to prevent consumption of Marijuana. But around 1893-94, a report of Indian Hemp Drugs Commission stated that: �Moderate use of this drug does not cause any trauma. However, overuse indicates and increases emotional instability that weakens the mind and may even lead to insanity.�[5]

In 1961, �Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs�[6] was the first ever international treaty that was made which banned the manufacture and supply of drugs which included Marijuana, except for specific reasons like medicinal uses. During the negotiation for the international treaty, India opposed the banning on Marijuana. India believed that Marijuana did not produce mental injury if not taken excessively, according to the report of Indian Hemp Drugs Commission.

On the other hand, most of the states in America put a ban on the drugs by the 1940s and agreed with the treaty. There was campaigning going on all over America at that time to put a ban on all drugs. Finally in 1985, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act came into power with the help of former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi. The act was made in a hurry by Rajiv Gandhi under lots of pressure from the international treaty.

There are a total 83 sections in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act which included all types of drugs like marijuana, hashish, bhang, smack, heroin, cocaine and crack and clubbed all types of drugs in one act. There were no discrimination between hard drug and soft drug and banned every drug, including Marijuana.

Now if we take a look at the past five years from now, we will understand whether the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act was a success or a failure. In 2018, a research was done by German data firm ABCD to find which cities consume the maximum amount of weed. It was found that New Delhi was placed third and Mumbai was placed sixth.[7] Delhi's weed consumption is way higher than Los Angeles and the fun fact is that Los Angeles has legalized this drug. Another research was done by German data firm, ABCD to find cities with cheap weed. It was again found that New Delhi was in tenth position and Mumbai was in eleventh position.[8]

Delhi and Mumbai both are ranked way above than Amsterdam, which happens to be the weed capital of the world. According to the 2018 annual report which was done by the International Narcotics Control Board, India was considered as one of the main centers for illegal drug trafficking. [9] In 2016, nearly 300 tonnes of ganja were seized in India and in the next year that is in 2017, the quantity of ganja increased to 353 tonnes, according to UN Office of Drugs and Crime.[10]According to the survey which was done by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMMS), it was found that 2.8% of Indian citizens consumed cannabis product.[11]

Most common places where consumption of Marijuana takes place are Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim, Chhattisgarh and Delhi.[12] After looking at all these statistics, we can definitely say that the numbers are not decreasing at all, in fact it is increasing rapidly. The consumption of Marijuana rose by 60% worldwide in the last decade according to the 2019 World Drug Report.[13] So by looking at this, we can also say �Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs� was not successful, it failed drastically. In India, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act also was a failure.

Current Scenario in India
Now if we look at the present scenario, it is even worse. From the age of 16, small children are coming in contact with Marijuana without even properly knowing about it and getting addicted to it. This results in decision making problems, memory loss, and social anxiety disorder at an early age. If these small kids smoke Marijuana for 30 days, then it will suppress 30% of decision making power and it will last for 4 to 5 years. Most adults around the age of 18 to 30 get Marijuana from some other friends or they have some dealers who help them to get weed. It is easy to supply weed in our country because these laws and acts like, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act are very easy to break.

It is only difficult to get weed during elections because during elections, every law enforcer starts working seriously. In India, it is easier to collect illegal things than legal things. Some Marijuana smokers think that Marijuana is a way to enlightenment and that is why they smoke to achieve spiritual enlightenment. They think getting hazy will awaken spirituality. Then there are some who wish to emulate Shiva by smoking weed.

As days are passing, it is getting much easier to get Marijuana by anyone. Even if minors want to get their hands on Marijuana, they can easily do it. According to the research done by India times, 60,000 kgs of hash and 40,000 kgs of opium is produced in Himachal Pradesh alone, in a year.[14] Out of that, only 500 kgs get seized every year. So we can imagine how much the illegal peddlers would be profiting. India allows the cultivation of cannabis for industrial purposes but its consumption could lead to a jail term of 6 months or a fine of ten thousand rupees. Illegal production and cultivation can lead to a jail term of up to ten years.

If we take an example of Paderu which is in Andhra Pradesh, it devotes about ten thousand acres of land for cultivating ganja according to The Economic Times.[15] Even knowing Cannabis is illegal in India but villagers still cultivate these plants. Law enforcers have tough jobs, they destroyed 1.7cr plants and raided 249 villages but the problem is only increasing.

Usefulness of Marijuana
Whether Marijuana is legal or not, people are going to do it anyway so why not legalize it. Humans are chemically driven species. What we can do is that we can put a legal age limit so at a certain age like 21, they can go to a store get some Cannabis and over there, at least people will be selling good and clean products and not random stuff that is mixed with Cannabis and being sold to everyone in the name of pure Cannabis.

People don't want to think or don't want to talk or are scared to talk about the recreational use of Cannabis. It is such a beautiful plant so why not use it. It has so many benefits like Hemp is now growing in India for the Hemp industry so if we legalize Hemp, we will then use the plant for Hemp fibers so we will get really long fibers from just this one plant and the best part about this plant is if we cut it, it will grow back really fast. We can make bags, bricks out of Hemp.

The oil which we get from the Hemp seeds has so many nutritional benefits like Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, Vitamins, minerals and so many.[16] It has everything in just one plant but it's put behind bars. The possibilities in the medical sector that Cannabis holds are for neurological disorder like epilepsy, neurodevelopmental disorders like autism spectrum disorder.[17] CBD can help in relieving chronic pain and help people with Attention Deficit Disorder as well.[18] A lot of research papers suggest that it can be used as a treatment against psychosis and anxiety.

The fun fact is that the gross happiness index in other countries where Marijuana is legal is much higher than India. There is a study in Japan that shows that CBD can be used for breast cancer along with liver cancer. Women can use it for period cramps and people can use it for bodily aches and pains. Lots of people can be saved from such debilitating diseases if this plant gets legalized. Instead of regulating the supply of Marijuana, like an economic commodity, we conveniently brushed aside the topic from the public sphere, which resulted in this taboo around weed.

Veda also says it is a source of happiness, it is a joy-giver and it's a liberator. In the past, it was used for gastric, appetizer, diabetes, diarrhea, jaundice and painkiller. It was the backbone of the Ayurvedic industry. In Ayurveda, Cannabis is referred to as Vijaya which means the victorious one.[19]

The statement about weed is a 'gateway drug' to other hard drugs, is not supported by science. According to 'India times', 9% of those who use Marijuana end up being severely addicted to it as compared to alcohol and tobacco which is 32% and 15% respectively.

According to Atharva Veda, Chapter 11, Varak number- 6 and Verse Number- 15 says one of the five most sacred plants from earth is Marijuana.[20] There has been a discussion going on for legalizing Marijuana in India. In 2017, Maneka Gandhi suggested legalizing Marijuana for medical purposes.[21] There are also other politicians such as Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and BJP MP Tathagata Satpathy supported for legalizing weed for medicinal use which has garnered quite a lot of attention.[22] Social awareness campaigns like the Great Legislation Movement have been trying to educate the masses about the medicinal benefits of Marijuana.

If weed is legalized in our country then, our government can actually earn a lot of revenue which might just help in boosting our GDP. According to 'India times', an average joint is equal to 0.32 gram, so 1 gram is equal to 3 joints, so Delhi rolls 114 million joints and Mumbai rolls 97 million joints every year. Study of 'India today' shows that if cannabis is legalized in India, both Mumbai and Delhi can raise Rs 725 crore and Rs 641 crore respectively provided it is sold at the same rate as of cigarettes. If India kept Marijuana legal in 1985 then it would be used for good purposes, people would do it without worrying and the government would get taxes.

Cannabis alone is a huge threat to lots of multi-billion dollar corporations. Many products are made from hemp cultivation like body care, food supplements, plastic products and many more and this is how it's boosting the economy of America.[23] Marijuana industry would help in creating more jobs in India if it was legal just like in America.[24] This plant is an absolute miraculous plant. It's a truly god gift to humanity and we have suppressed it. It's one of the world's most cellulose producing plants. It produces the most amount of biomass per acre as compared to any other crop. These three things make this a super crop. The more we stop someone from something, the more they will reach out to it. So, if our government acts smartly, legalizing weed might just do a lot more good than harm.

  1. Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985
  2. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs [1961]
  3. W. Mackworth, Report of The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission (Volume 1, 1893-94) 264
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  2. additudemag,
  3. business standard,
  4. DownToEarth,
  5. economictimes,
  6. forbes,
  7. gaia,
  8. healthline,
  9. Independent,
  10. Indianexpress,
  11. Indianexpress,
  12. Indiatoday,
  13. Indiatoday,
  14. International Narcotics Control Board,
  15. Linkedin,
  16. NCBI,
  17. Office on Drugs and Crime,
  18. The Washington Post,
  19. United News of India,
  20. yothkiawaaz,
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  2. Indiatoday, (last visited August. 10, 2020)
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  4. Indianexpress, (last visited October. 15, 2020)
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