Legalize and regulate the cultivation of industrial hemp and medicinal cannabis in India.

Legalize and regulate the cultivation of industrial hemp and medicinal cannabis in India.

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The Indian Hemp Story started this petition to National Level Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws

Tanking economy? Farmer crisis? Climate change? These are some of the most pressing questions being asked, only to be met with no clear answers. Cannabis can be a one-stop solution to all of these. Sounds strange right? Read on to know how.

Cannabis has a long-held history. It is mentioned as one of the five sacred plants in the Atharva-Veda, one of the oldest Hindu texts. It is also one of the firsts plants to be cultivated by humans and dates back to more than 10,000 years. It was used freely for its seeds - as food, fibers - for textiles, stalk - for paper, leaves - for medicines until it was banned under international pressure in 1985, by the passing of the NDPS Act.

Marijuana is cannabis, but Cannabis is not marijuana. Let us break that down; Cannabis refers to a broad species of plants, while marijuana or weed refers to the variety used for recreational purposes. The latter also has psychoactive properties. There are other varieties of the Cannabis plant, which are non-psychoactive, and therefore cannot cause a high. Instead, these varieties find use as a raw product for several industries including paper, textile, nutrition, pharma, construction.

One such variety, also known as industrial hemp, is the one that contains THC (the component in cannabis that causes the intoxication, or the "high") less than 0.3%, and thus cannot be used for recreation. The international market for hemp fibers is valued at over 5 Billion USD, and this is the right time for India to catch on.

Although the NDPS Act gave the power to the state governments to issue licenses for industrial and research purposes, there are no clear guidelines for the states due to which very few licenses have been given out. Uttrakhand became the first Indian state to give an industrial hemp cultivation license in 2018, following which the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Manipur have shown interest in legalizing cannabis cultivation. 

The hemp global market is expected to grow to over 20 billion USD by 2027, whereas the legal cannabis market is estimated to be over 100 billion USD which means the creation of a huge demand for quality yield. Cannabis grows wildly in around 400 out of 640 districts in India and is a low maintenance crop. It can grow virtually without the use of pesticides/fertilizers and requires very minimal water. It can be a good alternative crop for the Indian farmers as it requires low investment, has multiple yields annually (the growth cycle is 3-4 months), and since it finds application in multiple industries, it insures the grower by means of diversification.

Switching to Cannabis-based products is also the need of the hour looking at our climate crisis. Cotton production represents over 70% of pesticide use globally, and hemp has the potential to completely replace cotton. Did we mention it is the strongest natural fiber in the world? It also requires four times less water to grow and improves the soil quality where it is grown. Hemp can also help us save forests, which are cut down for paper production. We can get 4 times more paper per acre from hemp and too in much less time. It also is a carbon-negative plant and can help us fight global warming.

The NDPS Act, which governs cannabis cultivation is now open for public consultation and we are making the following recommendations to the committee to help legalize and regulate industrial hemp and medicinal cannabis cultivation so that India can leverage the growing global demand and position itself as a strategic export house and a leader in research. 

Help us by supporting this petition, and become a part of the green revolution.  These recommendations, along with the petitions, will be submitted to the committee on the 17th of November, which is the last day for giving suggestions through the open consultations.

Recommendations to the Committee:

  • To acknowledge and incorporate a clear distinction between recreational cannabis and industrial Hemp. ‘Hemp’ refers to industrially and commercially viable Cannabis which can be used to produce a range of products. It contains only 0.3% to 1.5% THC. Meanwhile, recreational cannabis can contain upward of 5% THC.
  • To make a special provision for medicinal cannabis, to allow fair license in order to cultivate cannabis for research purposes. This licensing must not be restricted to only very few organizations, since it will allow India to put itself on the map in terms of global research.
  • To enable frameworks under which state governments can provide a license for the cultivation of industrial hemp and medicinal cannabis, and also establish clear guidelines for obtaining this license.
  • To form a standardized seed bank which will work to promote Cannabis cultivation for specific and regulated use, as standardized raw materials is one of the major concerns in the industry.
  • To increase the mentioned THC limit from 0.3% to 1%, as 1% is still a very low amount of THC which cannot be used for recreational purposes. Not only so, but a great majority of India’s landrace strains have over 0.3% THC. This will help us reduce our dependence on international markets for seeds.
  • To allow terpene and CBD extractions from the flower of low THC plants, which will advance India immensely in terms of catering to the rising global demand for cannabis-based medicine.

 

You can also read our complete report here, which is going to be shared with the committee. You can also check out our Instagram page here.
 

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