Indians, stand with us ! We need your support .Remember you can’t spell HEALTHCARE without THC. We appeal to the GOI to industrialise cannabis to make a better WORLD
After withstanding the United States’ pressure for 25 years, India finally gave into the demands of its Western counterpart in 1986 by clubbing marijuana with other hard drugs and criminalizing it.
However, by making it illegal, more problems have come up. True, marijuana should be kept away from the adolescents, but its moderate use will not pose any risk to adults.
Instead of spending money on arresting drug offenders and cutting down marijuana plantations, why can’t our government save itself from all this trouble and legalize a culturally accepted substance that can help in socio-economic development of the country?
Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the world with an estimated 125 million people consuming it in some form or the other every year. In India, marijuana use has been historically bound to faith and mysticism. It is said to be a drug that helps the user attain “ecstasy in the original sense of the word”. India has consumed and celebrated charas (hash), bhang and weed for centuries.
However, implementation of stringent narcotic laws in 1986 made the sale, consumption, production and transportation of marijuana illegal in the country. 24 years on, here are some reasons why marijuana should now be legalized in India.
1. It will eliminate illegal trade and associate crimes
Marijuana legalization (or decriminalization) will replace the black market production and distribution with an ‘overboard industry’. There will be rules and regulations but the trade will be ‘populated by the government, farmers, merchants and retails clerks, not by criminals or drug dealers’.
2. Marijuana addiction is rare
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 and cocaine stood at 32 percent, 15 percent and 16 percent respectively.
3. Taxing marijuana will increase government’s revenue
By legalizing and taxing marijuana, the government will stand to earn huge amounts of revenue that will otherwise go to the Italian and Israeli drug cartels. In an open letter to US President George Bush, around 500 economists, led by Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman, called for marijuana to be “legal but taxed and regulated like other goods”.
4. It will create job opportunities
Legalization of marijuana for recreational and medical purposes in Colorado has created 10,000 new jobs in the area. There are a plethora of jobs that can be created by the marijuana industry and help reduce India’s unemployment rate.
5. Marijuana use has medical benefits
Studies have shown that marijuana use has dozens of medical benefits. It treats glaucoma, prevents cancer from spreading to other parts of the body, reduces anxiety, slows the progress of Alzheimer’s disease, improves metabolism and is even said to spur creativity in our brain.
6. It will help the locals
In states like Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, where cannabis plants grow, marijuana is the only source of income for many locals. However, being a banned substance, the farmers are forced to sell it at a very cheap price to the drug dealers and they face additional pressure from the police as well, who are paid to destroy the cannabis plantations. Legalizing marijuana will end this ‘war on drugs’ targeting our own countrymen.
7. Legalization will ensure that good quality marijuana is sold to the consumers
In India, dealers often mix hash and weed with chemicals or other drugs like afeem to improve the taste, color, texture or ‘high’ of the stuff. Legalization will improve the quality of marijuana sold to the users because government will regulate the production and sale of the drug.
8. Marijuana has limited withdrawal symptoms and its use can’t be fatal
“I’ve heard you have to smoke something like 15,000 joints in 20 minutes to get a toxic amount of delta-9 tetrahydrocannibinol,” says Dr. Paul Hornby, a biochemist and human pathologist. “I challenge anybody to do that.” Not only is it virtually impossible to overdose on marijuana, the users face nominal withdrawal symptoms after consuming it.
9. Prohibition has failed to control the use and domestic production of marijuana
It is said that 60,000 kgs of hash and 40,000 kgs of opium is produced in Himachal Pradesh. Out of that, only 500 kgs is seized annually. As per reports, “more than 1,600 hectares of cultivable farmland and an additional 500 hectares of illicitly felled public forests are currently under cannabis cultivation”. The rate is only increasing. Moreover, these days, it is pretty easy to buy marijuana in India and its consumption is widespread among the youth. So it is fair to say that prohibition has failed to curb the ‘problem’.
10. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol
Marijuana consumption was never regarded as a socially deviant behaviour any more than drinking alcohol was. In fact, keeping it legal was considered as an ‘enlightened view’. It is now medically proven that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. Unlike alcoholics, stoners don’t indulge in rash driving or violent fights. They tend to be calm and pleasant under the influence of marijuana
Prior to and even after the NDPS, cannabis are and were easily available in India.
There are many stories heard about how Lord Shiva loved weed and would come for it whenever he had a tiff with his wife. 🙂 Shiva wandered into the fields after a family tiff. Drained, he fell asleep under a leafy plant. After waking up, he sampled the plant’s leaves. Rejuvenated, he made it his favorite food.
Bhang which is made from the leaves of cannabi plant is drunk by many in the festival of Holi. Its use is ancient, has religious sanction among Hindus.
Soldiers often drank bhang before entering battle, just as Westerners took a swig of whisky.
A recent article on TOI (The Times of India) gave the exact history of NDPS and marijuana illegalisation. Excerpts-
The 1961 “single convention on narcotic drugs” was the first ever international treaty to have clubbed cannabis (or marijuana) with hard drugs and imposed a blanket ban on their production and supply except for medicinal and research purposes. During the negotiations for the UN treaty signed in New York, 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 espoused tight controls on the production of organic raw material and on illicit trafficking.
The sharp divergences between the caucuses led by India and the US emanated from their contrasting domestic policies, particularly on cannabis. While most of the states in the US had banned all narcotic drugs by the ’40s, India had a more pragmatic approach since its colonial days: its restrictions were focused on harder substances like opium. The Indian hemp drug commission appointed in 1893, far from finding it addictive, hailed cannabis for the “mild euphoria” and “pleasant relaxation” caused by it.
In deference to the scale of traditional consumption in India, the 1961 treaty also gave it a reprieve of 25 years to clamp down on recreational drugs derived from the tops. It was towards the end of this exemption period that the Rajiv Gandhi government came up with a law in 1985 conforming to the 1961 treaty : the narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances Act (NDPS).Accordingly, NDPS replicated the loophole provided in the treaty’s definition of cannabis, whereby its leaves and seeds have been spared the stigma of contraband. Besides, NDPS specified that cannabis meant charas (the resin extracted from the plant), ganja (the flowering or fruiting tops of the plant) and any mixture or drink prepared from either of the two permitted forms of marijuana. Thus, NDPS allows people to smoke pot or drink bhang so long as they can prove that they had consumed only the leaves and seeds of the cannabis plant.
“For 25 years since 1961, it has withstood American pressure to keep marijuana legal.”
“Since 1961, the US has been campaigning for a global law against all drugs, both hard and soft. Given that ganja, charas and bhang were a way of life in India, we opposed the drastic measure. But by the early ’80s, American society was grappling with some drug problems and opinion had grown against the “excesses” of the hippie generation. In 1985, the Rajiv Gandhi government buckled under the pressure and enacted a law called the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.”
“It was a poor law that clubbed marijuana, hashish and bhang with hard drugs like smack, heroin, cocaine and crack, and banned them all. The minimum punishment for violation of the NDPS Act was 10 years of jail (it has since been relaxed and the crackdown on marijuana has eased somewhat). What happened as a result of this law was that almost overnight the entire trade shifted from peddling grass or charas to smack or worse. This was because while the risk was the same, profits from the hard-killer drugs were ten times higher.
And suddenly, there was a drugs problem in India. In cities like Delhi, for instance, smack addiction grew. The addicts were mostly poor people – those who had earlier smoked grass were now ‘chasing’ smack. The poorly thought-out NDPS Act had actually created a drugs problem where there was none.”
In all fairness to Rajiv Gandhi, he passed this law under tremendous pressure from the western countries.
Given that studies across the world show that moderate consumption of marijuana is far less harmful than tobacco or alcohol, it makes little sense to uphold the ban on its recreational use. Marijuana also has medical benefits which include its analgesic and pleasant mood altering effects that it has.
However weed is widely tolerated by the Indian Police and in most cases if they catch you possessing a limited amount, they’ll let you off after taking a small bribe. Most colleges in India have a significant number of students who have smoked or seen someone else smoke pot/weed/grass.
Cannabis has been in our culture for centuries. We were forced to illegalize weed by the western countries. Now they itself realizing their mistakes is in the path of legalization. Should we wait again for the western world to force us for something. Can’t we just take our own decision and just legalize it. Isn’t promoting Indian culture and tradition the main motto of BJP government. Shouldn’t they take necessary steps for legalising cannabis which has been truly a part of our culture.
The most dangerous thing about marijuana is getting caught with it.
(this post is from the change.org petition for legalization of weed in India, you can support the cause here )