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How did marijuana become illegal in India?

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There are few things in India that enjoy religious and cultural sanctions as much as the use of cannabis does. And yet, it’s consumption is illegal.

If the mainstream rhetoric around the alleged death by suicide of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput is anything to go by, cannabis—or its resin (hash) and flowers (weed)—is the epitome of evil. The only paradox is that till 35 years ago, this view of the indigenous plant and its psychotropic by-products was not viewed as a crime. And Indians have been smoking up for thousands of years before that.

The association of cannabis with crimes, and by extension social stigma, is actually an import from the US. Though India opposed the classification of cannabis alongside hard drugs during the 1961 Convention on Narcotic Drugs, it eventually buckled under the pressure in 1985. “This was the Cold War era, and India needed the US as an ally and access to American technology,” explains Kartik Ganapathy, senior and founding partner, IndusLaw.

India enacted the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act in 1985, effectively criminalising the use of the fruit and flower of cannabis, but excluding the leaves. The leaves, which Indian grind on a mortar & pestle to make a paste called bhaang, have deep connections with the Hindu religion, especially the cult of Shiva, the god of destruction. Commonly used as an ingredient in cool drinks and sweets during the festivals of Holi and Shivratri, the sale and consumption of bhaang are permitted under Indian law. [Read More @ Yahoo]

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