India is a relatively conservative state where most forms of intoxicants are openly consumed. While alcohol is still frowned upon in some parts of Indian society, cannabis has been in the country for at least 3,000 years. India passed the Narcotics and Drugs Act after 1985 in response to the US pressure, which made the majority of the cannabis derivatives illegal. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 is a predominant law in India that deals with cannabis (weed or marijuana). Different states, on the other hand, have their regulations regarding pot or marijuana consumption, possession, sale, or purchase. Possession of these narcotics is generally regarded as criminal conduct in India, and it can land you in some serious trouble.
THE NDPS ACT DEFINES ‘CANNABIS’ AS
- Charas is a separated resin obtained from the cannabis plant, either crude or processed, and contains a concentrated preparation or resin known as liquid or hashish oil.
- Seeds and leaves which are not a part of the flowering or fruiting top are excluded from ganja.
- Any mixture or drink based on charas or ganja.
The NDPS Act forbids the sale and production of cannabis resin and flowers, but the use of cannabis plant leaves and seeds is legal, with states having the authority to regulate and establish state rules. Anyone caught in possession of any of these cannabis plant parts could be arrested. However, don’t be alarmed if you come across shops selling marijuana and hashish in the high Himalayas. Even for the privileged Indian class, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) is renowned to make things miserable, if you are caught breaking the law. The good news is that there is a way around it. Bhang, a cannabis plant extract, is an exception.
Bhang is a paste prepared by grinding together cannabis leaves and stems, whereas ganja—or weed—is more potent and made from the plant’s dried flower buds. The most intoxicating of the three types, charas, is a resin created by rubbing cannabis flowers for several hours; the longer the better. It’s commonly referred to as hashish. It was smoked by the Nizari Isma’ili militants of 11th century Persia, thus the term hashish, which is the etymological root of the word ‘assassin.’ It is also the most prevalent form of cannabis, which is used to make ‘Thandai,’ a milkshake laced with cannabis seeds and leaves that are enjoyed during Hindu festivals such as Holi and Shivratri, the Sikh festival of Hola Mohalla, and other festive occasions.
It’s not only legal but it’s also revered and encouraged—by few, at least.
WHAT HAPPENS IF ONE GETS CAUGHT WITH WEED OR MARIJUANA IN INDIA?
The NDPS Law makes it unlawful to possess illicit narcotics (weed or marijuana) in India. The aim of drug possession is irrelevant, and the punishment is determined by the number of drugs in possession. If a person is arrested with drugs or is found to be a drug addict, he or she will not be prosecuted if he or she agrees to go through de-addiction treatment willingly. The following are the numerous laws in India that deal with drug possession and usage by juveniles, or children under the age of 18:
- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act of 2000
- The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985
- Drug legislation in each state
Production, sale/purchase, transportation, interstate import/export, or any other commercial activity of cannabis is punishable under section 20 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
- For possessing a small quantity, the prescribed punishment is rigorous imprisonment for up to 6 months, fine of Rs. 10,000, or both.
- The stipulated punishment for possessing more than a modest quantity but less than the commercial quantity is harsh imprisonment for up to 10 years, a fine of Rs. 1 lakh, or both.
- The prescribed punishment for possessing commercial quantity but not commercial quality is harsh imprisonment for up to 10-20 years, a fine of Rs. 1-2 lakh, or both.
However, you can still legally get marijuana without actually going to Mexico or any other US state, there are five cities in India, Jaisalmer, Pushkar, Varanasi, Mathura, and Noida where u can get high legally but do take someone along with you, to be safe.
LEGALIZING CANNABIS IN INDIA
Given our ancient Indian ties to cannabis, I’m curious as to why this plant has created so much controversy and fury in recent years. The recreational use of the plant is allowed in Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Uruguay, Georgia, Australia’s capital region, and in a few US states. This may have been inspired by a study done in 2015 by Lachenmeier and Rehm, which revealed that, on a margin of exposure basis,’ alcohol and nicotine were far riskier than cannabis. After all, alcohol taxes fetch a massive revenue for the state governments which is around Rs 90,000 crores, per annum and Tobacco goods also bring in more than Rs 53,000 crore to the Indian government each year. We do not prohibit the sale of those items. Simply put, we make them prohibitively expensive for customers. The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985 now governs India’s cannabis laws. While the sale and consumption of cannabis resin and flowers are prohibited, the seeds, stems, and leaves are permitted.
In practice, bhang is legal, although ganja and charas are still prohibited. But, do you think it’s true? After all, beer, wine, vodka, and whisky all have different levels of alcohol. Beer has a five percent alcohol content, wine has a twelve percent alcohol content, vodka has a forty-five percent alcohol content, and whisky has a forty-five percent alcohol content. Because of their potency, do we make one lawful and the other illegal? However, until its legalized, if seen or have come across anyone selling weed or any such drugs be a responsible citizen, report this to the nearest police station.
Author’s Name: Poorvaja Vella (SVKM’s Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Hyderabad)