Marijuana has been part of the very fabric of India since the beginning of recorded history. As early as 1000 B.C. marijuana has been made into various preparations for religious purposes, healing, and much more.
When India was colonized by the British Empire, the British created one of the largest studies on marijuana usage ever made. They were concerned that the widespread use of marijuana throughout India was having adverse effects on the people who lived there. What they found instead was that marijuana was virtually harmless in moderate use, and that alcohol was far more problematic than marijuana.
They decided based on their research not to ban it completely and instead chose a more moderate approach of limiting exports of it. Despite this research being conducted well over a century ago, the implications of the study are still useful today.
Despite the long-standing tradition of marijuana in India, marijuana is currently illegal for the most part throughout India. The exception being government authorized shops selling Bhang, a mixture of spices, nuts, and cannabis leaves boiled in milk. This drink is commonly used as part of several Hindu festivals, in particular celebrating the god Shiva, who is said to have made cannabis his favorite indulgence.
The story goes that Lord Shiva got into a fight with his family and went out into a field to spend the night away from them. There he slept in a field under a cannabis plant, and upon awakening, he sampled some of the leaves to settle his hungry stomach. The leaves immediately refreshed him, and he took such delight in it, he named it his favorite food. Because of this story, it is common to offer Bhang to Shiva during the festivals celebrating him as well as to drink it during those times.
While it is banned at the federal level throughout the entire country, at a state level, it has been made legal or at least tolerated. States that are tolerant of marijuana use include Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, and the North-eastern states.
Despite the fact that marijuana has been banned at a federal level, there is currently talk about changing the law. In 2017, Minister Maneka Gandhi offered her support for legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. In particular, she noted its usefulness in treating cancer and other serious illnesses.
Another well-known politician, Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi, has supported the idea of legalizing marijuana not just for medical use but for recreational use as well.
In a country with such a long history of cannabis, it seems truly appropriate to make marijuana legal again. Whether the bill will pass or not remains to be seen. Many people are concerned because the bill includes other natural substances such as opium as well as marijuana. This may cause the bill not to be passed as opium can be far more destructive than marijuana.
The future of marijuana’s legality in India is currently uncertain, but one can only hope things will change for the better.
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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