India has a long past which has known marijuana, since almost 2000 BC. The ancient Indian Medical texts like Shastra have mentioned about this substance. The Ayurveda, Unani and other indigenous medical practices have documented the use of cannabis for medicinal and cosmetic purposes.
During British colonial rule, marijuana was categorized as an ‘intoxicating drug’ and excise duty was imposed on it. Post- independence, the frames of our constitution incorporated Article 47 under directive principles of state policy which deals with intoxicating drugs.
Under this article, “ State should try to prohibit use of intoxicating drugs, alcohol except for drugs for medical use.”
Later on due to atrocities of opium, it was included as well. However, there was no mention of cannabis. In a world conference, the highly toxic effects of cannabis were discussed and under the pressure of U.S. and India had to criminalize marijuana. Later on, in India, “Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act” was passed in 1985. It criminalized cannabis plant, Charas (resin), Ganja (but not bhang seeds and leaves), therefore, we could see widespread use of Bhaang in Holi, using religious festival as an excuse to fulfill our desire.
Some reports say that, marijuana is not addictive as compared to alcohol or nicotine. Yet, the bitter reality is that in the long run, its recreational use can be toxic to both body and soul. The drug has a capability of creating a virtual world which could be a temporary escape from reality. Moreover, it could lead to toxicity of brain and many disorders like Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe mood swings. If it’s get legalized, there would be an increase in drug lords, leading to more crime, prostitution, muggers and other illegal activities. There would be an increase in number of addicts leading to more violent public or private outburst. Even if it gets legalized with certain age limit, school and college children would find it much easier to obtain it. Farmers, Peasants and labors could become more addictive to it leading to less yield, thereby dumping the primary (agriculture ) and secondary (manufacture) sector of our economy.
Marijuana does have many positive benefits if used accordingly. Huge research is going on cannabis has found that it has many medicinal uses ranging from eye ailments, Cancer, joint pain. It is said to prevent further growth of cancerous cells in the body. China is investing huge money to find out its medicinal uses. It can even be used in industrial sector for fabrics, semi-conductors etc. If given a legal foothold, it could become a cash crop benefitting the poor farmers, who with small land holdings earn a lot. It can even be grown on the outer parts of the major crop fields. Its criminalization has made many people use it illegally rather than its legal use.
In fact, U.S.A. is now legalizing Marijuana. It is creating ‘smart ganga‘, a township in California, where people could easily get smokable marijuana. There are certain places in India also where it is legal, example Odisha, Varanasi, Jaipur. In India, certain denominations of Shiva worshipers consider marijuana to be part of their religious practice. Therefore, it would be against their religious sentiments if marijuana is banned in their dominated areas.
The conclusion which could be drawn by seeing the psychotic as well as beneficial uses could be decriminalization of marijuana under certain script norms. The focus should be on reducing the recreational use, for more study to be done on medicinal and industrial usage.