After the demise of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, we saw how our wonderful news channels took an unexpected turn in their coverage to make it all about Drugs. Not just any drug though, it was concentrated on marijuana, for the most part, with some other CBD oil-type things thrown in just for the heck of it.

Marijuana is a drug obtained from Indian hemp plants such as cannabis Sativa and cannabis Indica. It is a depressant narcotic and slows down the action and reaction process of the central nervous system. High dosages of marijuana may have hallucinogenic consequences.

However, it has many advantages as well. The plant is beneficial for fiber, oil, medicine, and spiritual purposes. Despite its numerous commercial and personal uses, the plant found its way into the list of items prohibited under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

Indians have a very powerful mythical and medicinal relationship with Marijuana. Its been here for ages as part of our celebrations and civilization and society. In 1986, Govt of India under tension from the medicinal lobby of the US gave in to build strict narcotic laws that made the sale, production, and transportation illegal in the nation.

There have been for or against the argument for legalizing this drug ever since. The law has been powerless to make a real distinction, albeit shifted a legal source of state income to multinational drug alliances.

According to a report, around 60000 and 40000 kgs of opium is produced in Himachal Pradesh. Out of that, only 500 kgs are occupied annually. By making it legal, the govt can add to state earnings, it can also help the local business of hilly states with scarce water and the huge demand for this drug can be legally fulfilled reducing the crimes related to this industry.

Let’s explore in detail why Marijuana is not legal in India

The US connection

The roots of marijuana not legal in India has its roots in the US. One must have noticed how the in the United States of America are now legitimizing cannabis or recreational and medicinal objectives. However, the case was not different around 60 years ago. In the 1960s, America ran a movement to impose a ban on cannabis. Under Article 28 in 1961, at the United Nations, cannabis was put under the list of materials to be highly governed by the signatory government. As per the judgments made during the meeting, only licensed personnel can cultivate or deal in the Cannabis seed.

Though the reason behind the ban was listed as to govern the use of drugs and the involvement of methodical crime in the cultivation and dispersion of narcotics, it is believed that one of the explanations behind the ban was the probable industrial applications of the plant.

Cannabis and its variants can grow in harsh situations at a very rapid rate. Some experts understand that as the plant was cheap to produce, it was not easy to sell properties made out of it at a higher price making it less successful for corporate.

Marijuana declared not legal under Rajiv Gandhi

In the 1961 treaty signed by the nations to ban narcotics, including marijuana, India was not a member. However, under the massive force of the United States, Rajiv Gandhi led the government had passed the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act in 1985.

Under the law, the state governments got the power to authorize, control, and regulate the cultivation of cannabis plants along with generation, manufacture, possession, transport, inter-state import, and export of the plant and its derivatives. Only the state government and its authorized personnel are authorized to cultivate the grain.


The production of Marijuana in the Indian States.

Interestingly, though the government has provision licensing personnel to cultivate cannabis since 1985, the first license was given in 2018. Indian Industrial Hemp Association got the initial authorization to develop and grow hemp. In an interview, the founder-president of IIHA said, We will commence cultivation of non-narcotic hemp soon with the initial focus on creating a seed bank. The growing of marijuana plants will be taken up in small towns in the Pauri Garhwal region. They got clearance to develop hemp in the state of Uttarakhand over 1,000 hectares, on a pilot footing. At present, the company sells fiber made out of the hemp plant.

Countries where Marijuana is legal

Canada: In October 2018, Canada legalized the medicinal use of cannabis under the Cannabis Act. Canadian who is not a minor can keep or share up to 30 grams of marijuana in the dry or non-dry pattern.

Uruguay: It was the first country to legitimize cannabis in the year 2013 for sporting use. Customers have to register to buy marijuana for recreational intentions. They can buy up to 10 grams of marijuana from legally accepted drugstores.

North Korea: We all know that this country keeps mostly things secret but there are many rumors that now the government had legalized the growing of Marijuana.

Several states in the US: States including Illinois, Washington State, Oregon, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, California, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, and Alaska, have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Other states may follow the suit sooner or later as per the experts.

Netherlands: Cannabis can be sold in licensed coffeeshops.

The reason why marijuana is not legal and bhang is under the law?

The Magnitude of India Substance Report in the year 2019 highlights that approximately 2.8 percent of India’s public have used some element of cannabis in 2018. There is a vast loophole in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act in 1985 that only prohibits the usage of buds and resins. It is understood that the government purposely kept this loophole to leave bhang, which is made out of leaves, out of the range under the law that would have forbidden its use even for religious purposes. The leaves of the cannabis plant contain a lesser concentration of active ingredients making it less powerful.

Although bhang is not restricted, the law prohibits anyone from developing it for commercial purposes. Though bhang is not covered under the NDPS Act, it does fall under the definition of a cannabis plant, making it a punishable act to cultivate the plant without authorization from the government.

What is the punishment for carrying drugs (Marijuana) in India?

Even keeping prohibited drugs in India is a crime and violation of rules under the NDPS Act. The purpose of possession of drugs is not relevant and the punishment depends upon the number of drugs in possession. If someone is found addicted to the prohibited drugs and voluntarily asks for de-addiction, the person will be exempted from legal consequences.

The several constitutional acts that deal with ownership and consumption of drugs in India by minors are as follows-

  1. The Juvenile Justice Act, 2000
  2. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985
  3. State drug laws


Section 20 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 says that production, procuring or selling, transportation inter or intrastate, import/export, or any other marketable policy of marijuana is not legal and punishable by law.

  • For carrying a lesser quantity, the ordered punishment is strict custody for up to 6 months or a fine of Rs. 10,000 or both.
  • For carrying more than a small quantity but less than the marketable quantity, the prescribed penalty is imprisonment for up to 10 years, a fine of Rs. 1 lakh, or maybe both.
  • For holding marketable amount, but slightly less than commercial quality, the imposed punishment is severe imprisonment for up to 10-20 years, fine of Rs. 1-2 or both.

If you permit your area to be utilized for such a violation, you are accountable under section 25 of the NDPS Act and will be conferred the same penalty cited under section 20. Different states in India have made their own rules and modifications in the act which makes it even tough to pilot with the drugs. Before thinking of maintaining even the slightest quantity, just beware that it can cost very high.

Possible legalization in India

In January 2018, the Prime Minister Office inquired the health ministry to search for the advantages of marijuana. The letter from PMO asserted, An answer implying the decision or action taken on the submission of the pleader may consistently be sent to the petitioner at the earliest, preferably a month. In case it is not apparent to take any action or decision on the matter, a provisional reply suggesting the reason be sent to the PMO and petitioner.

Later in a similar year, the state of Uttarakhand enabled the cultivation of hemp. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor also spoke in favor of legalizing marijuana in India. In March 2020, Prasenjit Chakraborty, a BJP leader from Tripura, request PM to contemplate legalizing marijuana in India.

However, the case of Sushant Singh Rajput’s demise has disclosed several illustrations where heroes of the Indian film industry were involved in drug abuse in It is speculated that the case will push back efforts of marijuana legal in India for some moment. Also, recent studies have uncovered how Pakistan is entangled in narco-terrorism in India. It is one of the reasons the government may not consider legalizing it any time shortly.


As a Responsible citizen

If you come across any individual who is buying or selling weed or marijuana or other drugs in India, you can reach the police authorities of your nearest police station. There are unique narcotics cells in many police stations in India. A grievance or complaint can also be documented with the Officer of State customs or excise with the help of advocates.


Varsha Verma

A small-town girl with not so small dreams. The keen interest in literature and music keeps my soul alive. Specs, stories, and playlists are my lifelines!

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