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Marijuana-The Story So Far

People have contrasting views related to legality of Marijuana. So, what is this Marijuana, what the Indian Law say about this? Everything will be discussed here.

Introduction
Marijuana is a green, brown or gray mix of dried, crumbled parts from the Cannabis plant. Marijuana is the most commonly abused illegal substance worldwide. It is a drug that is used by the people to feel intoxicated. Marijuana has vast number of slang terms like weed, charas (resin), herb, pot, grass, bud, ganja(flower), bhang(seeds, leaves) and many more. It can be in form of joints, bongs or in blunt.

History (Legality of the plant)
Cannabis has been in use in India since 2000 BCE. Prior to Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985 cannabis were easily available in India. Marijuana has been considered as an effective pain killer, an antidepressant, an antibiotic and a sedative. It was used for balm, smoking and to treat gonorrhea and angina pectoris with many other benefits. The main psychoactive component of cannabis is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

However, the Food and Drug Administration have not deemed Marijuana safe in the treatment of any medical condition, although cannabidiol, a substance that is present in Marijuana, received approval in 2018 as treatment for source of some types of epilepsy.

The 1961 "single convention on Narcotic Drugs" was the first ever international treaty to have clubbed cannabis with hard drugs and imposed a blanket ban on their production and supply except for medicinal and research purposes. India agreed to restrict Indian hemp products (Cannabis plant products) on a condition that Convention's definition of Cannabis will be modified and allow the official meaning of bhang to be left out.

The use of Bhang which is made from leaves of Cannabis plant is appropriate as the Hindu scriptures claim that bhang is used to purify the Lord Shiva elixir of life that he produced from his body.

Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985
Under Section 2 (iii) of NDPS Act, 1985 cannabis means:
  • Charas
  • Ganja
  • Any mix of any of the above mentioned cannabis or any drink prepared from that spot, with or without any neutral materials.
Drugs such as opium, LSD and cocaine are banned in India . The act resists certain sections of cannabis plant , exception given to plant's leaves which is used in bhang.

Now, Marijuana is a class one illegal drug in India with high potential for abuse so it's an offence no matter the quantity. Unless one has medical reason and proper authorization they will face narcotics and law enforcement.

Punishment for the possession
NDPS act is a statute where possession of drugs constitute an offence. Under section 20 of the narcotics drugs and pyschotropic substances act 1985, the punishment is prescribed for offence related to consumption, farming, purchasing, transporting interstate importing, inter sales exporting except for medicinal or scientific purpose.

Punishment is as follows:
  • For small quantity- Rigorous confinement for a term, that may extend to 6 months or fine that may extend to Rupees 10,000 or both,
  • For larger than small quantity but lesser than commercial quantity- Rigorous confinement may extend to ten years with fine that may extend to Rupees 100,000,
  • For commercial quantity- Rigorous confinement will not be less than 10 years, but may extend to 20 years and a fine of not less than rupees 100,000, which can be extended to 200,000.
Juveniles can not be prosecuted under NDPS act. For them there is a separate statute i.e. Juvenile Justice Act.

Advantages of Marijuana
  • Relief of chronic pain
  • Improves lung capacity
  • Help lose weight
  • Regulate and Prevent Diabetes
  • Fight Cancer
  • Helps in Depression and many other health benefits
  • Helps with Alcoholism as cannabis is much safer than alcohol

Disadvantages of Marijuana
  • Trouble in thinking and remembering i.e. memory loss
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness and Migraines
  • Respiratory issues
  • Gateway drug to the legalization of other drugs
  • Create drug abuser
Marijuana is less harmful than other drugs. Reports claim that the rest of the energy taken by drugs contributes to physical aggression while marijuana serves to give comfort and relaxation of the senses.

Is Marijuana addictive?
Excessive use of Marijuana can lead to marijuana use disorder which takes the form of addiction in many cases. People feel dependent on the use of marijuana in their lives. Even when the person realizes that the use of the drug is interfering with the daily aspects of his life, he is not able to leave it's use, that is what we call as Marijuana use disorder

Marijuana should be legalized in India as:
  • It will eliminate illegal trade and associate crimes
  • Marijuana addiction is rare
  • Taxing Marijuana will increase government's revenue
  • It will create job opportunities
  • Marijuana use has medical benefits
  • It will help the locals in generation of income
  • Legalization will ensure that good quality marijuana is sold to the consumers.
  • Less harmful than alcohol
Marijuana should be kept away from the adolescents, but its moderate use will not pose any risk to adults.

Conclusion
Research studies show that there are other drugs like cocaine, morphine, LSD etc. which are more powerful than marijuana. Their consumption affect a human body to the larger extent, this leads the consumer to physical aggression and losing control while cannabis leads to comfort and relaxation of senses.

The roots of Marijuana is deep and spread throughout the ancient India. Since 2000-1400 BC to up until 1980s' marijuana was legally sold, even at normal shops, and used extensively by the people. However there was a huge setback to the same with the enforcement of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act 1985) which made marijuana illegal in India.

Also studies suggest that legalization of marijuana will drastically decrease the tendency of people to indulge into more dangerous drugs like cocaine, heroine etc. Marijuana should be kept away from the adolescents, but its moderate use will not pose any risk to adults. Indian Government can likely in future re-legalize cannabis as our country is taking positive steps towards the promotion of legalizing cannabis to expand the medicinal, commercial and industrial purpose.

References:
  • https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2261316
  • https://nida.nih.gov/download/1380/cannabis-marijuana-research-report.pdf?v=7fc7d24c3dc120a03cf26348876bc1e4
  • https://www.probono-india.in/research-paper-detail.php?id=716
  • https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341251010_
    Interdisciplinary_Research_Review_Social_religious_recreational_and_medicinal_usage_of_cannabis_in_India_and_Thailand
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