LEGALISATION OF MARIJUANA: LEGAL HISTORY
Cannabis has been widely recognized and accepted in various civilizations as a medicinal plant along with it traces of it being consumed through smoke and different aspects. In the recent times politicians and public in general is turning towards a more neutral and unprejudiced approach when it comes to its usage. Masses are turning to history in order to capsulate the rationale of how it ended up in the Schedule I, the category which is regarded as the most dangerous. There are various aspects to it some of which have been discussed at lengths in the present article titled “Legalisation of Marijuana”
India on banning the use of marijuana was, unlike any other law, greatly influenced by the policy of US towards the hemp industry. In order to get a clearer grasp on the subject one need to visit history, particularly the legal history and rationale which prevailed in criminalising marijuana.
The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission In 1894, in a 477-page report stated that moderate use of the drug practically produced no ill effects. “In respect to the alleged mental effects of the drugs, the Commission has come to the conclusion that the moderate use of hemp drugs produces no injurious effects on the mind,” it stated.
India being the land of bhang has a culture of consuming cannabis in different forms and the mention of it can evidently be found in various festive. When we talk of statutory control over narcotic drugs various Central as well as State enactments go hand in hand. Currently, soon after 1985 with the introduction of The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, the production, supply and use of cannabis in India is prohibited. The term cannabis (or hemp) is defined under Section 2 (iii) of the Act. The act in a comprehensive manner does cover powers of Central and State Government to permit, control and regulate the cultivation, possession, sale, manufacture and import of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Further the Chapter IV of the said Act deals with the punishments and various offences under the said Act.
The debate on legalisation of marijuana is going on across the globe. This very debate could be classified into three sects. One who advocates for it being legalized and regulated since the criminalization of cannabis makes little economic, social and legal sense while the other sect of the debate claims the impact of substance abuse on the health of a human. The present legal implications are the result of cumulative actions adopted during the British India regime. The colonial administration of British India had classified bhang, ganja and charas as intoxicating drugs and was eventually exercised under the laws of excise.
Prior to Enactment
Prior to the enactment of the act there was no such barrier on possession or use of cannabis but rather the social beliefs along with religious and mythological stories had reference to consumption and use of marijuana all throughout India. The principal rationale behind enactment of 1985 Act was the international treaty of UN in 1961 which aims at preventing the production and sale of certain mentions narcotic substances. Gradually many nation countries had resorted to the said convention in order to fight drug war which had gained momentum at international arena and was weakening the position of nations across the globe.
Subsequently on 23rd August the NDPS Bill was introduced and received its assent by the President of India on 6th September 1985. Currently Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh government are the two states of India which have legalised the cultivation of Bhang (hemp) for the scientific research purposes but before dwelling further into whether it should be legalised and regulated it is equally important to understand that there are no immediate serious harms through the use of cannabis however various researches conducted over a century and half suggests that the continuous use of cannabis is likely to trigger certain mental health issues one of which is psychosis, making people feel nauseous, lethargic, forgetful, anxious or confused.
When it comes to prohibition on cannabis, in recent decade is rather fostering drug cartels across the globe resulting in incredible profits for the organised crimes. If the said substance, as per the standing Member of Parliament, is legalised and regulated than it is likely to contribute significantly highly in form of increased tax revenues and thereby reducing the illegal drug trade and criminal activities that accompanies it. Huge sum of money could be saved on policing and imprisoning people and would also give a boost to the Indian economy by establishing a whole new legal hemp industry.
Currently the said plant is almost grown in every country and it becomes quite a daunting task to trace its origin however the fact remains that out of two main species of the plant – Cannabis Indica is named after our very own country India. There is plethora of mentions in the religious and historic text of the plant and is most commonly used in Hindu ri
How Cannabis Became Part of Thriving Cultures of India.
Rituals throughout India in the form of bhang.
The mention of bhanga or ganja could be found in Atharva Veda (c. 1500-1000 BCE) as one of the five sacred plants that relieve anxiety. Sayana interpreted bhanga as a type of wild grass, but many scholars identify bhanga with cannabis. As many as forty-three synonyms have been attributed to the cannabis plant and the consumption of cannabis as a drug can broadly be categorized into four aspects, them being: –
- Priests, ascetics, fakirs, yogis, and sanyasis (for stimulating meditation and a spiritual mindset)
- Devotees of Shiva, Kali, and other gos (for ritual ceremonies)
- In order to relieve pain and fatigue of the people who engage in hard physical labor
- Patients, in order to relieve their psychic, somatic and psycho-somatic ailments.
As a matter of ganja or bhanga or cannabis is also widely consumed in various desserts such as barfee, ladoo, sarabat. Sometimes raw cannabis is chewed along with betel leaf. Finally, cannabis is also, as we know in present times, smoked through pipes and bongs.For that instance, even ayurveda also prescribes for cannabis to be consumed either in form of powder or for that matter into a tablet, boiled with or boiled into water to produce the kvatha.
It is usually combined along with various other medicines in order to reduce the natural psychotropic effects. Some of the recipes very specifically states as to which part of the cannabis plant is to be used and the manner in which it is to be combined. Cannabis is consumed both by healthy people and patients either as an aphrodisiac or to treat the major ailments respectively. It is interesting to note that there is no explicit mention of ganja being smoked. The resin of the herb contains as many as sixty compounds of which (THC) tetrahydrocannabinol cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannaigerol (CBG) have significant therapeutic value. Still the best available source is the natural cannabis itself.
On critical examination of the UN convention, one could comprehend that in the present times the international prohibition relating to cannabis have failed miserably when it comes to it being implemented in almost every country and is costing the societies exorbitantly a large sum of money.
Rather the prohibition on cannabis have proved out to be lethal and have rendered violence and criminality, increased health related issues, and have poured out tax money in order to curb and punish the cannabis producers, customers and suppliers.
The result can be seen in form of Uruguay and Canada along with several states of US have turned to legalise and regulate the so-called drug. It is high time that India also takes due notice to the fact and thereby embrace the health and business arising out of legalising the cannabis industry.
Recent mention of legalising the marijuana by the Member of Parliament such as; Maneka Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor and Dharamvir Gandhi have provided a new momentum for those interested in pursuing the legalisation of cannabis. Owing to rich and diverse culture of India and recognising the cultural and religious belief; marijuana is widely and easily accessible to the masses. There is a need to ament the NDPS Act of 1985 to meet the present demands and need of the society. Inspite of putting a complete ban on the marijuana it is much more advisable that the usage, production, selling and storage be legalised and regulated by the law makers. This industry has great potential for revenue generation and providing great amount of returns and granting employment even from land tillers to various popping up of new nations.
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Written by: Arun Raghav