India – Academic Paper: Journey of Marijuana From “Folk Tales” to “Doors of Justice”: A Comprehensive Review


This comprehensive review delves into the intricate journey of marijuana in India, tracing its historical and cultural significance from ancient times to the present day. Despite its deep-rooted presence in religious rituals, traditional medicine, and cultural festivities, marijuana faces stringent prohibition under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985. This review critically examines the current legal framework, highlighting its societal impacts and limitations. Through an evidence-based analysis, it advocates for a reevaluation of marijuana laws to align with contemporary realities, promoting public health, social equity, and economic development. By envisioning a future of evidence-based regulation and innovation, India can unlock the full potential of marijuana as a “miracle crop” for the betterment of its people and society.

Introduction & Background

Marijuana, known as “Ganja” or “Bhang” in India, holds deep historical and cultural roots within the country. Dating back thousands of years, marijuana has been integral to various religious, spiritual, and medicinal practices. In ancient texts, such as the Vedas and the Atharvaveda, references to cannabis as a sacred herb are abundant, depicting its use in rituals, ceremonies, and Ayurvedic medicine [1]. Throughout Indian history, marijuana has been revered for its purported medicinal properties, believed to alleviate ailments ranging from pain and inflammation to anxiety and insomnia. Additionally, it has played a significant role in cultural festivities, particularly during festivals like Holi and Mahashivratri, where bhang-infused beverages are customary [2].

Despite its deep cultural significance, the legal status of marijuana in India is largely prohibitive. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act 1985 categorizes cannabis as a Schedule I drug alongside substances like heroin and cocaine, indicating a high potential for abuse and strict legal penalties for possession, cultivation, and trafficking [3]. Under the NDPS Act, the possession, sale, transportation, and cultivation of marijuana are criminal offenses, punishable by imprisonment and fines. However, certain exceptions exist for the use of cannabis leaves and seeds for industrial or horticultural purposes, subject to stringent regulations [4].

The purpose of this comprehensive review is to critically examine the legal, social, economic, and health implications of marijuana prohibition in India. By delving into the historical context, current legal framework, and cultural significance of marijuana, this review seeks to assess whether existing laws align with contemporary realities and societal needs. Furthermore, this review aims to explore the potential benefits of legalizing and regulating marijuana, considering its medicinal properties, economic potential, and impact on public health. An evidence-based analysis intends to provide insights and recommendations for policymakers, legislators, and stakeholders to reconsider and reformulate marijuana policies in India.

Apurva Bezalwar • Pradeep S. Patil • Shobha Pajai • Anshita Girdhar

Published: March 29, 2024

DOI: 10.7759/cureus.57190 


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