Why and when was weed made illegal in India?
Cannabis or Ganja as we like to call it, was legal in India until 1985, until the Government banned it under the pressure of the USA. Previously in 1961, the international treaty “Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs” classed cannabis with hard drugs,a group of cannabis and opium producing countries, led by India, opposed its intolerance to the sociocultural use of organic drugs. They were however overwhelmed by the US and other western countries which were keen on having tight controls on the production of organic raw material and on illicit trafficking.
Meanwhile, the Indian Hemp Drug Commission appointed all the way back in 1893 had stated that marijuana was far from being addictive and wasn’t dangerous per se. It was stated that it rather had ‘mild euphoria’ and ‘pleasant relaxation’ as the evident benefits.
Finally, after almost 25 years of withstanding American pressure to keep cannabis legal, in 1985, the Rajiv Gandhi government buckled under the pressure and enacted a law called the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. This Act clubbed marijuana, hash and bhang with hard drugs like smack, heroin, cocaine and crack. This Act caused a paradigm shift among the peddlers,everyone went from peddling weed to peddling harder drugs, the profit was much larger for the same amount of risk. This eventually lead to a drugs problem in India, in cities like Delhi smack addiction became more and more common, anyone that previously smoked weed was now pushed towards harder substances.
Why should we legalize weed?
- It is safer.
For starters, cannabis is much safer than tobacco and alcohol. There has never been a single death caused by cannabis compared to the millions being claimed annually by the latter two. To overdose on weed you would need to smoke anywhere between 300 to 1000 joints in a day and that’s a lot of joints. An epidemiological study showed that only 9 percent of those who use marijuana end up being clinically dependent on it. The 'comparable rates' for tobacco & alcohol stood at 32 percent and 15 percent respectively.
- It has medicinal benefits.
Recent researches have found that cannabis has a plethora of medicinal uses including but not limited to treating seizures, chronic pains, period cramps, nausea, depression, anxiety, PTSD,glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, muscle spasms, Crohn’s disease and it is even prescribed by doctors to slow down the spread of cancer.
- Keeping it illegal isn’t doing anything.
Despite being illegal cannabis is the most commonly consumed controlled substance in India, and if you want to “score” weed in India the chances are you will most probably have to deal with a shady guy in a shady neighbourhood exposing you to all kinds of petty criminals in the process. On top of that majority of the weed being produced in India is too weak for the consumer so the growers make up for it by lacing it with harder drugs and sometimes with hazardous substances like rat poison, shoe polish, glue, glass, etc (insert link for the article about laced weed in Delhi and Mumbai).
- Legalizing it will help the economy.
Since being legalized in a few states in America, Marijuana tax has generated almost $1billion in revenue. Furthermore, New Frontier Data (a data analytics firm focused on cannabis industry) predicts that if cannabis was decriminalised in all states of America it would generate $132billion in tax revenue and 1 million jobs by 2025, this is when not including any revenue or job that will be generated by the hemp industry. Just imagine how drastic of an effect legalizing weed would have on the Indian economy considering the fact that Delhi and Mumbai rank in the world’s top ten cities with highest rate of cannabis consumption per year.
What’s the scene like right now?
The sale and consumption of weed happens freely in India, usually the local dealers have an understanding with area’s police (i.e. ever-increasing bribes). The scene for the growers is totally different however, they have to grow weed in secluded spots near slums, waste water disposal spots and parks in the cities. The growers in the hilly areas and villages have better soil and have to deal with much lenient law enforcement. The overall awareness about weed and reality about its criminalization is rising, and with companies like TATA and Patanjali (insert link to the respective articles) making investments in the cannabis sector the future for weed in India looks bright.
What do you think the future holds for the recreational cannabis scene in India? And did we miss something on the list of reasons to legalize weed in India? Do let us know in the comments.