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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.
Moreover You have to take a look at this man work
Patiala MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi’s Bill to seek legalisation of the “non-synthetic” intoxicants has been cleared by the legislative branch of Parliament, a statement issued by him informed on Wednesday. Gandhi hopes this winter session the amendment for the NDPS Act will be tabled before the Parliament and hopefully the Act shall be amended to provide relief to common drug user through cheap, regulated and medically supervised supply of traditional and natural intoxicants like ‘afeem’ and ‘bhukki’ (opium) “to get society rid of dangerous and killing medical and synthetic drugs”.
Gandhi, who won as Aam Aadmi Party candidate but has since been suspended from the party, is seeking to amend the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act 1985. This is the second Bill by Gandhi to be accepted for tabling in the Parliament, the first being the Sikh Marriage Bill 2016 that has already been tabled in the Parliament.
The reason for bringing up this amendment to the NDPS Act, says Gandhi, is that “the 30 years’ period of enactment and implementation of NDPS Act has produced results contrary to the desired results”. “Thirty years down the line, where do we stand? The fact of the matter is that the NDPS Act has not only failed in achieving its professed goals, but this ‘War on Drugs’ has delivered results directly opposite to what it aimed to achieve. There can be no better verdict and/or evaluation of such punitive drug laws than frank admission statement of the United Nations Conference on 12th March, 2009, admitting that ‘the war on drugs has failed’,” the statement added.
Dr Gandhi described the intentions behind the enactment that the “NDPS Act was enacted in order to meet then UN Conventions on Drug Policy... The objective was to prevent rampant drug use in society, as it was believed drugs and intoxicants degrade the moral character of individuals and destabilize well-ordered society.”
A sadhu smokes cannabis in a chillam. (HT File Photo)
“Most drugs were made illegal. Anyone found using or possessing such substances was prescribed harsh punishments, and large amounts of money was invested in the enforcement of drug restrictions and punishments handed out herewith. Plants and chemicals used in the manufacture of drugs were strictly controlled, and drug enforcement agencies spent large amounts of money and time ensuring that drugs were eradicated from society,” he added.
“But the ‘war on drugs’ had led to the creation of a dangerous drug mafia, hundreds of scores of human rights violations and innumerable precious lives destroyed.”
Opium and cannabis (or marijuana) are legal in several parts of the world. (HT File Photo)
“As the common man’s recreational substances were made unavailable, the newer, more potent, addictive and dangerous alternative drugs flooded the markets. Heroin replaced opium, cocaine replaced cannabis, and so on. As the drug business involves huge super profits, on one hand it creates rivalries spilling into gang wars and on the other hand it promotes ruthless and aggressive marketing, thus pushing more and more people into the drug world. Consequently, the petty traditional drug users are turning to the easily available and aggressively marketed more addictive and dangerous street drugs.”
He said statistics of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) indicate that number of drug users arrested contributes to 88% of those jailed under NDPS. “Traffickers and distributors are 2%. No financers have been arrested. The drug mafia operates with impunity, increasing the scale of its operations.”
Biju Janata Dal's (BJD) chief whip in the Lok Sabha, Tathagata Satpathy, is one such MP who has become a torch bearer for the cause, after his speech advocating the legalization of Cannabis and abolition of Section 377.
“I feel in these socially conservative times, somebody is needed, to bell the cat,” he told The Hindu. “Cannabis is a drug that has been given a bad name, the alcohol lobby, peddling something far more dangerous, has managed to club cannabis with more dangerous narcotics,” he said.
In another interview to the Times of India, the four -time MP said "We are the US of the '50s and the '60s. We are wannabes. The thinking is that if you hold a wine glass people will consider you belong to the upper class. You roll a joint and people will call you “charsi.” It is an elitist bias...Cannabis suffered a ban because it was an intoxicant of the poor."
Can the country learn from Odisha?
Cannabis, is legal in certain places in India, like Odisha, where you can walk up to a government excise shop and buy your day's need.
This not only regulates the drug, so that the state can control the trade, it also generates revenue for the government in taxes besides offering more employment options.
In states with ideal conditions, marijuana is the only source of income for many local farmers, as it is easy and quick to grow. However, since it is banned, the farmers are forced to sell it to drug dealers for throwaway rates, while also fearing the police.
"When you ban something, one of the main results of it is that it promotes underground rings and results in an 'illicit' trade. In Odisha, we never looked at it like a drug, so we have never had a problem with it," Satpathy tells TNM.
When asked if the other members of Parliament were ready to have a debate on decriminalization, he said "They are neither ready nor interested to have a discussion on the issue."
"If the states really want to ban or control drugs, ban alcohol shops within the vicinity of a highway," he added.
Many states in the US like Colorado have legalized marijuana, and it seems to be doing more good than harm. However, as far as our country is concerned, the jury is still out.
Lawyer claims countries like US, Uruguay, North Korea, Israel have either fully or partially legalised sale and consumption of marijuana.
In all of recorded history, not one person has ever died from consuming marijuana, says a public interest litigation that objects to the ban on cannabis or marijuana in India, saying that the move is not backed by scientific evidence.
Marijuana should therefore be legalised in the country so as to help patients, says the petition filed by Aditya Barthakur, a 34-year-old lawyer.
Barthakur added that marijuana has several “benefits” including helping cancer patients by easing their pain.
A small, yet significant development in his case, the petitioner says, is the Bombay High Court’s recent issuing of notices to the Central and state governments.
Quoting from the Atharva Veda, he cites a verse, whose translation, he says, is: “To the five kingdoms of the plants which Soma rules as Lord we speak. Darbha, hemp, barley, mighty power: may these deliver us from woe.”
The lawyer says that the shloka includes, “bhango” which is nothing but hemp or cannabis or marijuana. “It also finds a mention in the Atharva Veda as a divinity and sanctity which shall without doubt free us from bondage and danger,” he says.
Barthakur tries to draw attention of the High Court towards the “fact” that cannabis has “always been” an “integral part” of Hindu culture. He says bhang, an extract of the cannabis plant, is given as an offering to Lord Shiva on Mahashivratri. He also cites an 1894 report of the Government of India, namely the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report, on cannabis usage in India.
“The report throws ample light on cannabis, as it explains its religious, cultural significance, medicinal benefits, and, also signifies the fact that cannabis was always an integral part and parcel of almost daily life and culture of the inhabitants / populace of our great nation in those days. So why make it illegal?” asks Barthakur.
He contradicts the observation made in the national policy on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances which says use of cannabis has so far been extremely limited, and, confined to alternate medicine such as homeopathy and Ayurveda. “Such an observation in the said National Policy should be backed by scientific evidence, and, not on mere assumptions or presumptions,” says Barthakur.
He says there are several nations – the US, Uruguay, North Korea, Israel – that have either fully or partially legalised sale and consumption of marijuana.
Wanting an explanation as how was cannabis harmful to humans, he sent numerous applications under the Right to Information Act to various Central government ministries and agencies.
One such reply from the National Institute of Nutrition, he says, “copy-pasted” a reply from the website of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of New Jersey. Another reply from the Central Bureau of Narcotics “just mentioned the provisions of the National Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985”.
He lists out 20 different medical conditions such cancer, lung function, epilepsy, etc in which consumption of marujana by patients helps in either cure or easing the pain. Documentaries on the medical benefits of marijuana such as “Weed” by Dr Sanjay Gupta of CNN and Rick Simpson’s “Run from the Cure” have been relied upon as well in his PIL.
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