Marijuana has been one of the primitive psychotropic drugs used since the Pre-Historic period of Man’s existence and is closely integrated with the history of most ancient civilizations in terms of their religious practices, known to have existed throughout the world. In India, Marijuana mostly has an association with religious customs and traditions that date back to the period of flourishing gods and goddesses. Decriminalization of marijuana has always been a questionable topic after the execution of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, (NDPS Act) 1985, interdicting the sale and possession of marijuana all over India. In the wake of the recent events in which ten states in the United States have voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, a surge of liberal thoughts has outraged this country. This paper aims at drawing a strict analysis on the usage of marijuana, legalization of the same in India followed by arguments related to alcohol and tobacco regulation and the ineffectiveness of the NDPS Act in relation to the prohibition of Marijuana.
Consumption of marijuana and other cannabis spinoffs such as bhang date back hundreds of years with strong roots in Indian religion and culture. From being the indulgence of Baul singers of Bengal to the festival of Holi, Marijuana use has rarely been seen as aberrant social behaviour in Indian society. In fact, till 1985, marijuana and other cannabis by-products were legally sold in the country through approved retail shops. However, the enactment of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in that year killed the marijuana trade in India.
Aim and Objective
This project aims to provide evidence as to why Marijuana should be made legal in a country like India. The objective is to find evidence and loopholes in the various statutes regarding mild intoxicants and come up with arguments as to why such mild drugs can /should be regulated in government authorised stores rather than being banned.
Scope and Limitations
The research paper attempts to figure why Marijuana is illegal in India, how the NDPS Act came into existence and whether it had been serving its purpose or not, if it is possible to make Marijuana legal because the NDPS Act is ineffective and also as more than half the population is already smoking it.
As a researcher there were a few constraints that I faced during the progress of my paper, the primary being the lack of material when viewed in the context of India. The secondary is that some of the sources (mostly the internet) that I have relied on may require further verification on certain grounds.
The majority of this paper has been done using secondary sources. There has also been the application of very few primary sources in certain areas. My research has mostly been around blogs, online newspapers, videos, articles, journal articles, e-books, etc.
- Is the outlawing of Marijuana beneficial to the Indian subcontinent? What is the ‘mischief’ that is sought to be addressed/prevented by criminalizing marijuana?
- Is there a legal basis in banning Marijuana and or does the basis lie in non-legal cultural/moral norms?
- Is there a case for decriminalizing marijuana use considering the ineffective enforcement of (NDPS) Act?
Concept and Content of Cannabis
Cannabis, also known as marijuana (from the Mexican Spanish marihuana), and by other names such as Weed, Hemp, Hashish/hash, Ganja, Strawberry Diesel etc. is a blend of the Hemp plant intended for use as a psychotropic drug as well as for its medicinal values. Cannabis has more than two hundred street names amongst which hashish (also known as hash), ganja, weed, pot, grass etc. are the popular ones. Marijuana contains THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the main active chemical in marijuana. It also contains 400 other chemicals. Marijuana’s effects on the user depend on the strength or potency of the THC it contains. THC is a chemical that increases the tolerance of the user towards the drug where more quantities of the drug need to be taken in order to achieve the same ‘HIGH’ effect as before. The mind-altering effect caused by this active chemical changes the way the brain works and functions. It has been argued for years now whether the cannabis plant/hemp is a drug or simply a natural herb like any other with stronger side effects and hence many people are considering both herb and drug to be the most logical answer.
What Is the ‘Mischief’ That Is Sought to Be Prevented by Criminalizing Marijuana in India?
In 2004, the United Nations (UN) estimated that the global consumption of cannabis throughout the world to be approximately 4% of the adult world population (162 million people) who used cannabis annually and approximately 0.6% (22.5 million) of people who used cannabis daily. Since the early 20th-century cannabis has been subject to legal restrictions with the possession and use and abuse, and the sale of cannabis preparations containing psychoactive ingredients is currently illegal in most countries of the world especially in India; the United Nations has said that cannabis is the most-used illicit drug in the world.
Aside from a subjective change in perception and, most notably, mood, the most common short-term physical and neurological effects include increased heart rate, increased appetite and consumption of food, lowered blood pressure, impairment of short-term and working memory, psychomotor coordination, and concentration. Long-term effects are less clear. In humans, relatively few adverse clinical health effects have been documented from chronic cannabis use.
Cannabis Edges India? Why?
Psychoactive drugs fall in the category of anti-depressants, hallucinogens and cannabis is one such drug that is a mix of all these properties making it most sought after. THC is typically considered the primary active component of the cannabis plant; various scientific studies have suggested that certain other cannabinoids like CBD may also play a significant role in its psychoactive effects. It’s been proved by medical studies that marijuana is one of the top-end substances which are being used as painkillers for arthritis and glaucoma as well as cancer and that the results produced by this plant are unquestionable.
Cannabis used medically has several well-documented beneficial effects. Among these are: the reduction of nauseating sensation and vomiting in chemotherapy as well as stimulation of hunger and the same for AIDS patients, lowered intraocular eye pressure as well as to treat pain and muscle spasticity (shown to be effective for treating glaucoma), as well as the general anaesthetic effects (pain reliever). Most recent studies indicate that cannabis helps in de-stressing and acts as an anti-depressant.
People Jailed for Possession
After the enactment of the NDPS Act, it was a harsh blow on the population of India as a violation of the Act would lead to 15 years prison sentence. It was later on that the rules became a little more formidable where the sentence was decreased. Before this easement of the sentence, people had been getting picked off the streets and have been tossed into jail. By legalization, the burden of the police will also reduce and the number of people rotting in jail would also decrease to a large extent.
Ineffectiveness of Prohibition
The third major reason why marijuana should be legal is that prohibition does not help the country in any way. There is no sufficient evidence to state that prohibition decreases drug use, and there are several theories that suggest prohibition can actually increase drug use (i.e. the “forbidden fruit” effect, and easier accessibility for youth due to lack of regulation). One unintended effect of marijuana prohibition is that marijuana is very popular in the Indian setting. Why? Because it is available. You don’t have to be 21 to buy Marijuana – Marijuana dealers usually don’t care how old you are as long as you have the money. It is actually easier for many college kids to obtain marijuana than it is for them to obtain alcohol because alcohol is legal and therefore is regulated to keep it from within the reach of kids. If our goal is to reduce drug consumption, then our main aim should be to should focus on open and honest programs to educate youth, regulate and safeguard in such a way to keep kids away from drugs, and treatment programs for people with drug problems. But the current prohibition scheme does not allow for any such reasonable approaches to marijuana. We tried prohibition with alcohol, and that failed miserably. And we sure are trying the same procedure with marijuana and until we fail, which we are sure to do, we would have not realized our mistake.
Saving on Costs
It is quite impossible to ban something that grows naturally in our country. The hemp plant grows naturally in most of the high altitude regions of India and even though our government decides to ban the drug, people in the country will still be able to get their hands on the plant as it can be found anywhere and banning it is “BORDERLINE” stupidity. So the fact that our government tries very hard to keep this ban on Marijuana, they should realize that it is not getting them anywhere and hence if it was legalized then it could be used to the advantage of the government since we find it in abundance in our country. The resources that go into prohibiting the drug are being squandered and wasted as there are no measures that can be taken to ban or even enforce a ban on a plant that is unique to our country. If these resources were used elsewhere in terms of regulating Marijuana, our country will have the funds to deal with other widespread problems such as poverty and human trafficking.
Money Creation (Tax Revenue)
It is evident that legalizing marijuana through the process of regulation, it would allow for legal distribution and taxation of cannabis in India. Marijuana legalization offers an important advantage over prohibition which is that it allows for taxation on the legal distribution of marijuana. Without taxation, the free market price of cannabis is estimated to be extremely low. Therefore, taxation could be implemented at extremely high rates, while maintaining the price of the drug at a rate competitive to other intoxicants, such as alcohol. Taxation on legalized marijuana would both create government revenue as well as provide a less harmful and addictive substitute to tobacco and alcohol costly enforcement and incarceration expenses. It would create an economic boom in our country which would leave smiles on many, many farmers as well as growers whose livelihood is based on growing Marijuana especially in the Kullu Valley/Region of Himachal Pradesh.
In a country like India where their unity in diversity, the fact that many religions depend on marijuana to reach their god must also be considered in this argument. These “sadhus” or “godmen” who proclaim to get closer to god only by smoking marijuana are not going to stop smoking Marijuana just because it’s illegal. It does not really matter to them as long as they get their share for the day which indirectly puts the government in a bad light as it will be said that the government has not taken effective measures in actually prohibiting the drug they said was illegal to possess. Since our country has decided to ban such a drug, it is necessary that the legislation takes all aspects of the drug into notice as it plays a very important role in the realm of religion. If it is banned then no one, including the “sadhus” should be allowed to use the drug for any sort of recreational use.
Counter Arguments Regarding Legalization of Marijuana in India
These were a few reasons that were given by the Parliament on why the recreational use of Marijuana is banned in the country. In the below arguments I have provided both sides of the argument. The counterarguments have been researched upon and written by me.
The Gateway to Drugs theory
This theory states that the use of less deleterious drugs may lead to a future risk of using more dangerous drugs. Cannabis, alcohol and tobacco are ascribed to this theory. Some scientific studies show that the consumption of cannabis can possibly predict a significantly higher risk for the subsequent use of “harder” illicit drugs, while other studies show that it cannot. A 10 yearlong study conducted in Australia found that adults of 24 years used a drug called Amphetamines which was preceded by the use of cannabis.
In 2006 a counter-study was conducted on rats, in Sweden, which examined the brains of the rats after dosing them with cannabis and found that the THC alters the opioid system that is the system associated with positive emotions, where it lessens the effect of the opiates on the rat’s brain and thus causing them to use more heroin. The rats were given THC at a very young age of 28 days, which is why it is impossible to extrapolate the results of this study to humans. Also, the previously cannabis-exposed adult rats, despite being desensitized to heroin, were no more likely to get addicted (as measured by the likelihood of self-administration) than the controls.
There are many more controversial approaches to this theory making it the most criticized theory against the battle for legalization. Many medical studies have just been logical fallacies. A major one is the invalidity of the argument saying that there exists a causal relationship between the two variables – ‘using less harmful drugs to move on to harder drugs- ‘from a relationship which is strictly parallel’. Also if looked at logically, there are individuals who would yes to all if they were given a new drug to try for whatever the reasons may be and hence these mild drugs such as Marijuana could be seen as irrelevant in terms of being a ‘gateway drug’ except the fact that they are available at an earlier age than the harder drugs.
Effects on the Brain
A 35-year cohort study published August 2012 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and funded partly by NIDA and other NIH institutes reported an association between long-term cannabis use and neuropsychological decline, even after controlling for education. It was found that the persistent use of marijuana before age 18 was associated with lasting harm to a person’s intelligence, attention and memory, and was suggestive of neurological harm from cannabis.
However, individuals who started cannabis use after the age of 18 did not show such decline. Results of the study came into question when a new analysis, published January 2013 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, noted other differences among the study group including education, occupation and other socioeconomic factors that showed the same effect on IQ as cannabis use. Existing research suggests that the 2012 study was likely to be an overestimate and that the true effect could be zero. Three more research studies collaborate this finding.
The Inefficiency Of The NDPS Act In The Prohibition Of Marijuana
While examining different angles identified with liquor, drugs and HIV, it is alluring that we additionally inspect no less than one of the enactments in point of interest relating to drugs. Subsequently in this unit let us inspect the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (NDPS) Act, 1985. The NDPS Act, as it is known prevalently, is intended to face an imperative social issue: drug trafficking. This is additionally one of the unique Acts that has preceded the courts often and has been having an extensive number of clashing judgments hence confounding the overall population. Preceding the NDPS Act, the statutory control over opiate drugs was practised in India through various Central and State Enactments. The Principal Central Act, 1930 was authorized quite a while back being of the first enactments regarding the prohibition of drugs in India. With the progression of time and the advancements in the field of illegal drug movement and substance misuse at the national and international level, numerous insufficiencies in the current laws have come into notice.
Sec. 2 (iii) characterizes Cannabis as “cannabis (hemp)” as charas, that seems to be, the differentiated pitch, in whatever structure, whether rough or sanitized; from the cannabis plant furthermore incorporates concentrated planning and tar known as hashish oil or fluid hashish; ganja, that is, the blooming or fruiting highest points of the cannabis plant (barring the seeds and leaves when not joined by the tops), by whatever name they may be known or assigned; and any mixture, with or without any material, of any of the above types of cannabis or any beverage arranged subsequently. The definition in this Act prohibits leaves and seeds when not joined by tops. Bhang is not secured by the Act however it incorporates charas. Bhang is an arrangement produced using cannabis leaves expended in parts of India on a few celebrations. As it is not produced using cannabis tar or from blooming tops, it is not secured under the NDPS Act, 1985. The creation and offer of Bhang are allowed by numerous State Governments.
Likewise sec. 8 expresses that no individual can produce or grow the opium poppy or any cannabis plant with an exemption for medicinal or logical purposes in the way and to the degree given by the procurements of this Act. Therapeutic utilization and logical exploration of Marijuana is, hence, lawful in India according to this segment but recreational use is strictly unlawful. On the other hand, restorative utilization of cannabis has so far been to a great degree restricted and kept to as a substitutive solution, for example, homoeopathy and Ayurveda. State Governments have really not been authorizing the development of cannabis for strictly medical purposes. Recently, there has been developing worldwide enthusiasm among researchers in investigating conceivable restorative employments of cannabis. Development of cannabis won’t be allowed provided for its constrained demonstrated uses for restorative purposes.
Development should be allowed for exploration including trials of different mixtures of cannabis. Notwithstanding this inconsistency, the Central Government does not allow consent to utilize cannabis for modern and green purposes (exploratory examination). The Cannabis plant can be a wellspring of biomass and fibre for modern purposes. Cannabis seeds can be utilized to create cannabis seed oil – a high esteemed oil. A few nations permit the development of cannabis mixtures that have a low substance of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the dynamic fixing which has an inebriating impact. These mixed bags of cannabis are utilized to create filaments which are, thusly, utilized as a part of a generation of fabrics and for the creation of biomass.
Cannabis grown for any recreational purposes (Cannabis Sativa) is an offence under the NDPS Act. Anybody developing cannabis for any reason other than for medicinal and experimental research is obligated under Section 20 which expresses that development or generation or offering or buying ganja will sum to five years of detainment with a fine reaching out to fifty thousand rupees, and for whatever other manifestations of cannabis other than ganja will prompt least ten years of detainment with a fine stretching out to one lakh rupees. Likewise, the court has the tact, in light of sensible legitimization, to force a fine surpassing two lakh rupees.
I submit that this Act irrationally groups ganja, charas in examination with bhang. How can it be that charas and ganja are illicit, yet bhang is devoured lawfully on an expansive scale? Isn’t this disparity going to befuddle the general population? The administration has neglected to draw a line between the booked medications and gentle intoxicants. On the off chance that at all a line is to be drawn then, either the whole classification of cannabis ought to be banned or no part of it ought to be disallowed as this is an outlandish and uncalled for order. In addition, the exemption to giving the restorative utilization of cannabis is a make-conviction procurement as it is just about difficult to look for consent for its logical and therapeutic utilization. The administration’s strict zero-tolerance approach has blinded it from recognizing the evidence and subsequently, this has made it lose its centre from successfully satisfying its obligation through the methodology of making statutes/rules in this Act.
The obstruction corrective procurements of the NDPS Act, 1985 and other administrative, managerial and preventive measures were discovered deficient to control the illegal travel activity in drugs. It was, accordingly, felt that a preventive confinement law ought to be instituted with a perspective to successfully immobilize individuals occupied with any sort of illegal activity of opiate drugs and psychotropic substances. To attain this destination, the President proclaimed the “Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Ordinance” on the fourth of July, 1988. – focused on the UN Convention and SAARC Convention of 1988.
This Act enables the Central Government and the State Governments to make requests of detainment concerning any individual (counting a non-native) in the event that they are of the conclusion that it is important so to do with a perspective to keeping him from submitting illegal activity in opiate drugs and psychotropic substances. The outflow “illegal movement” had been characterized to incorporate the development of any coca plant or assembling any segment of coca plants, developing the opium poppy or any cannabis plant, or taking part in the creation, make, ownership, and so forth of opiate medications or psychotropic substance.
As I would see it in spite of the procurements that have been made by the legislature, unlawful trafficking of drugs still prevail. I concur that the stringent demeanour has helped control this uncontrolled procedure to a certain degree, however not a noteworthy degree. This is likely because of the hazy boundaries of the drugs in the aforementioned Act. By what means can the administration work effectively if the Act spreads clarity? It is high time that a legitimate line is drawn and the administration concentrates on fighting the perilous drugs and quits characterizing the mellow intoxicants in the same group.
Hence I submit that there is a chance for decriminalizing Marijuana in India due to the ineffectiveness of the Act in prohibiting it. In light of the above argument, it can be seen that the provisions regarding Marijuana prohibition in India do not cover all aspects of the subject matter hence the presence of loopholes tend to be present which give rise to unnecessary problems, in this case, illicit trafficking of drugs and other substances.
Is there a legal basis in banning marijuana in India or does the basis lie in non-legal cultural/moral norms?
A recent article in the “The Times of India” gave an excerpt on the history of the NDPS Act and marijuana legalisation. –
“For 25 years since 1961, India has withstood American pressure to keep marijuana legal.”
“Since 1961, the US has been fighting for a worldwide law against all drugs, both hard and soft. Given that ganja, charas and bhang was a lifestyle in India, we restricted this extreme measure. However, by the early ’80s, the American culture was pondering over some drug issues and supposition had developed against the “overabundances” of the nonconformist era. In 1985, the Gandhi government feeling burdened under all that pressure went ahead and instituted a law called the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.” It was a poor law that clubbed cannabis, hashish and bhang with hard drugs like smack, heroin, cocaine and split, and banned all of them. The base discipline for infringement of the NDPS Act was 10 years of prison (it was understood to have been loose and the crackdown on weed has sort of lessened). What happened as an aftereffect of this law was that practically overnight the whole exchange moved from selling grass or charas to smack and much harder drugs.
And before anyone could figure what had happened we had a there was a drug problem in India. In urban areas like Delhi, case in point, production of smack developed. The addicts were generally destitute and came from lower backgrounds – the individuals who had prior smoked grass were currently “pursuing” smack. The misguided NDPS Act had really created a drug problem when there wasn’t even one in the first place.
The 1961 “single convention on narcotic drugs” was the first-ever universal arrangement to have clubbed cannabis (or marijuana) with hard drugs and forced a sweeping boycott on their generation and supply aside from therapeutic and exploration purposes. Amid the transactions for the UN settlement marked in New York, a gathering of cannabis and opium-producing nations, headed by India, restricted its bigotry to the sociocultural utilization of natural ‘medication’. They were however overpowered by the US and other western nations which upheld tight controls on the creation of natural crude material and on illegal trafficking.
The sharp divergences between the councils headed by India and the US exuded from their differentiating household strategies, especially on cannabis. While the vast majority of the states in the US had banned all opiate medicates by the ’40s, India had a more business-like methodology since its pioneer days: its limitations were centred on harder substances like opium. The Indian hemp medication commission selected in 1893, a long way from thinking that it was addictive, hailed cannabis for the “gentle rapture” and “charming unwinding” brought about by it.
The predominant view on cannabis in the UN consultations prompting the 1961 arrangement couldn’t have been more diverse. Notwithstanding, in the bargains that emulated to work out an agreement, the last draft of the settlement characterized cannabis in such a way, to the point that it cleared out-degree for India to bear on, for example, with the custom of bhang being devoured on an extensive scale on Holi. The settlement illuminated that the cannabis illegal by it was just “the blossoming or fruiting highest points of the cannabis plant”, particularly “barring the seeds and leaves when not joined by the tops”.
In regard to the scale of customary utilization in India, the 1961 arrangement additionally provided for it a relief of 25 years to brace down on recreational medications determined from the tops. It was towards the end of this exclusion period that the Rajiv Gandhi government concocted a law in 1985 adjusting to the 1961 bargain: the Narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances Act (NDPS).
In like manner, NDPS duplicated the proviso given in the arrangement’s meaning of cannabis, whereby its leaves and seeds have been saved the disgrace of booty. In addition, NDPS pointed out that cannabis implied charas (the gum separated from the plant), ganja (the blooming or fruiting highest points of the plant) and any mixture or beverage readied from both of the two allowed manifestations of weed. Hence, NDPS permits individuals to smoke pot or beverage bhang so long as they can demonstrate that they had devoured just the leaves and seeds of the cannabis plant.
Then again, since cannabis develops wild the nation over as a strong weed, it is troublesome for the Narcotic Control Bureau, set up under NDPS, or the neighbourhood police to check individuals from assimilating the prohibited tops. The dubiousness of the procurement on pot is the closest India has possessed the capacity to come to recognize what Colorado and Washington are presently looking to accomplish through their choice: recreational utilization of the weed.
The bases of cannabis are profound and strongly spread all through antiquated India. From 2000-1400 BC to up until the 1980s’ Marijuana was lawfully sold, even at typical shops, and utilized widely by individuals. However, there was a gigantic setback to the same with the requirement of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act 1985) which made Marijuana illicit in India. With the improvement of the NDPS Act, there was an increment in drug wars and planned unlawful acts.
Legitimization of cannabis will spare time and exertion used by our administration on a trivial medication, for example, weed, which could be adequately used towards more genuine and unsafe drugs, for example, heroin, and cocaine and so on. Studies do uncover that unlawful acts and wars happen generally because of forceful and rough streaks in people. With the assistance of Marijuana, they can be tranquil and stunned which will, thus, diminish the inclination to savagery. This comes as some assistance for the legislature in times of such roughness and interruptions in the country, (for example, terrorist acts, religious upheaval and so forth.). Additionally with the accessibility of milder medications, for example, cannabis, the inclination to enjoy more unsafe medications will definitely diminish. Financially talking likewise, the sanctioning pot will help as an additional wage for the recently authorized conveys and merchants. Likewise regulation over the deal can create gigantic duty incomes which can free obliged India from WHO and UN. I might want to infer that the time it now, time that India – considering the age-old custom of utilizing cannabis off-spring (bhang) for revering divine beings and goddesses furthermore for individual joy/recreational utilization ought to set an illustration, being the subcontinent, and authorize pot. Examines over the world demonstrate that direct utilization of cannabis is far less hurtful than tobacco or liquor, it bodes well for maintaining the boycott on its recreational utilization.
Obviously, the exorbitant utilization of marijuana can be unfavourable. However, that is additionally valid for liquor – banning which is seen, rightly, as unreasonable. On the off chance that tobacco and liquor are sold over the counter and the customers are anticipated to utilize as much as they want within it is a need, there is no motivation behind why the same approach can’t be received for Marijuana. Additionally, the profits of therapeutic Marijuana are generally recognized, which supports its qualifications as a mellow medication. Authorizing/Legalizing Marijuana, brought together with an illuminated medical approach, will stop the spread of more hazardous intoxicants and lead towards a more modern and developed India.
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