If you've got a good eye, you'll notice that in a country with so much taboo around drugs, the abundance of these substances is not so rare. Although marijuana sale isn't legal in India, cannabis enthusiasts have ensured a clandestine supply of ganja throughout the country. A study by Seedo ranked Delhi and Mumbai as the world's top 10 cities with the highest rates of cannabis (marijuana or weed) consumption per year, so it's safe to say that there is a strong circulation of marijuana. Albeit the presence of supply, it is still hard to find a good quality marijuana strain, especially if you are someone who enjoys regular smoke up sessions or dabbles with edibles; naturally, you would prefer something devoid of chemicals but still potent. In India, procuring quality marijuana can be a struggle as in the absence of dispensaries there is no one to regulate the quality of marijuana, yet. But there are certain places that offer relatively better weed than you get in cities, you just need to know where to look.
So, here’s a guide to everything you need to know if you smoke up - laws, places to score marijuana, weed-friendly spaces and the prices!
What part of the plant is legal and what isn’t?
We've already discussed that consuming any kind of drugs in India is a legal offence, but there are certain legal loopholes in definitions that allow for certain parts of the cannabis plant to be used as recreational cannabis. For example, the non-flowering part of weed is used to make ‘bhang’ an edible, that Indians use for recreation and celebration of the festival, Holi. It looks like this:
You would also be surprised to know that India allows the cultivation of cannabis for industrial purposes (Hemp is used in making fibre).
Indian law defines marijuana as the flowering or fruiting top of the cannabis plant out of which resin hasn't yet been extracted. This definition excludes the leaves and seeds that are around the plant. According to the National Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985, this is how marijuana is defined:
"cannabis (hemp) means:
(a) charas, that is, the separated resin, in whatever form, whether crude or purified, obtained from the cannabis plant and also includes concentrated preparation and resin known as hashish oil or liquid hashish;
(b) ganja, that is, the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant (excluding the seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops), by whatever name they may be known or designated; and
(c) any mixture, with or without any neutral material, of any of the above forms of cannabis or any drink, prepared therefrom.
Since the states left out the seeds and leaves that are not accompanied by the tops, bhang came to remain as legal. Legalisation called for regulation by states, which is why you can buy bhang from pan shops but not weed even though they originate from the same plant.
Why did India ban weed?
The Indian law punishes you for consuming, carrying, selling or transporting Marijuana and other Cannabinoids. This wouldn't have been the case if the US hadn't put pressure on India to club marijuana into the synthetic drug category. In 1961, the US, during a United Nations convention, expressed that it wants to impose a ban on the production and supply of marijuana except for medicinal and research purposes. However, India initially denied to sign the agreement since they didn’t have an issue with the sociocultural use of organic drugs such as cannabis. In fact, the Indian Hemp Drug Commission 1893, a study of cannabis usage in India, identified the drug for its effects of mild euphoria and pleasant relaxation.
When India defied the U.S pressures, the 1961 treaty gave India a buffer of 25 years to implement the ban. At the end of this period, the Rajiv Gandhi government led to the formation of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS). This led to the country adopting the ban of certain parts of the cannabis plant; a truly unfortunate decision for marijuana enthusiasts.
The legal repercussions for possession of cannabis in India
The punishment for Cannabis in India depends on the quantity of product you are caught with. Section 20 Of the NDPS Act, 1985 deals with the offences related not only to the consumption but also cultivation, possession, use, sale/purchase, import/export, transportation and warehousing of cannabis, except for medical or scientific purposes.
Under section 20, for possession of small quantities (100 grams for charas and hashish, 1000 grams for ganja), you have to pay a penalty of Rs 10,000 or serve a jail term of 6 months to 1 year. If someone is caught with commercial quantities (1 kg for charas and hashish, 20 kgs of ganja), the court can serve stern imprisonment for up to twenty years and pay a fine of two lakh rupees.
In the case of cultivation, a fine of up to one lakh rupees and rigorous imprisonment of up to 10 years might be levied. Courts also at their own discretion can penalize a regular offender for a 30-year imprisonment term.
A crash course in Marijuana terminology
Did you call it charas but mean ganja? Do you know what parts of the cannabis plant are used to make bhang? Are you aware of the different strains of marijuana available? If you're confused about the nitty-gritty, we've got you covered. Let's go over some basic marijuana terminology that you need to navigate the Indian terrain in your search for the holy grass.
- Baba: Slang for weed. 'Baba Ji ki booti', ring any bells?
- Bhang: The non-flowering parts of the cannabis plant. Also, used to make edibles as it is the legal form of cannabis, usually made from Indica strains. This is often consumed in lassis during the merry festival of Holi.
- Charas: Hashish, usually hand-rubbed in India, illegal in the country. Charas is usually smoked with a chillum. Chillums bring the smoke directly into the throat.
- CBD: Stands for cannabidiol, found in the hemp plant. It doesn't cause psychoactive effects and can counteract the 'high' by THC ; it is a form of medical marijuana.
- THC: Tetrahydrocannabinol, just break it down into three words, it'll be easier to remember. This is the compound in cannabis that gives the feeling of being 'high'.
- Indica: Our home-grown marijuana, the name Indica is modern Latin for "of India". It's a particular strain of marijuana known as Cannabis indica. These strains are known for their therapeutic qualities such as pain relief from chronic illnesses.
- Sativa: This strain has energising effects rather than being physically sedating so you can use it for social gatherings, brainstorming ideas, or even physical activity.
- Chillum: Conical, a pipe-like device used for smoking but if you don’t want to spend on getting one, here is how to make one with a carrot!
- Desi joint: Joint/spliff made using the body of a pre-rolled cigarette, we know this is the last method you’d choose to smoke weed but desperate times call for desperate measures.
- Rizlas: Rolling papers are also called Rizlas; they can be found throughout the country, though king-sized papers aren't always easy to come by.
- Roach: End of a joint, as well as the word to use when looking for filter papers for rolling.
- Tola: 1 tola equals to 10 grams of weed; interestingly it's also used for measuring jewellery.
A list of essentials for stoners
- Rolling papers: If you prefer joints/doobs over other methods of consuming recreational marijuana then make sure you have a stack of rolling papers. They can be hard to find at some places so make sure you have a good stash from a trusted brand.
- Filter tips or roaches: You can either make them with thick paper or buy a pack from a shop.
- A glass pipe: These sophisticated-appearing pipes enable a larger quantity of smoke to be inhaled, they also cool down the smoke so that it doesn’t irritate your throat. You can feel cool smoke flow through your throat as you reach nirvana!
- Rolling tobacco: Some people like to mix a little bit of tobacco with their weed to get an extra head rush. According to Herb, when you combine cannabis bud with tobacco, you'll feel a combination of the energetic buzz of nicotine and marijuana’s giggles and philosophical thoughts.
- Weed grinder: Now, picking out seeds and stems is a time-consuming process. Wouldn't you want a shorter process and instantly have your weed all crushed and smooth, ready to be rolled? It's a small but great long-term investment if you smoke regularly.
- A digital weighing scale for weed: You can find one of these easily online. This ensures that you know exactly how much you are paying for and how much you are consuming. It also helps if you're following a recipe for edibles and you need exact measurements.
- A bong: Investing in a bong has several benefits - the first being bongs are the most efficient ways to consume cannabis and according to Herb, they also offer an enhanced sensory experience compared to joints.
Read More: Best Weed Grinders to Buy in India
Where Do I Find Weed In India?
According to a majority of Indian Reddit and Quora users - Himachal Pradesh is the best place to score some weed and smoke it without being caught. Manali overflows with shops peddling smoking paraphernalia and hippie clothing, and its streets buzz with smokers. People also visit the Parvati Valley, which is said to have the best charas, in the state.
Kasol seems to be the one-stop-shop for all things weed -bongs, filter papers, roaches and the best weed in the country.
Malana, the source of the infamous Malana cream hash, is the most famous of the villages. However, the people of Malana recently "decided" to ban tourists from the village as they didn’t want blazed tourists roaming around the place.
Kerela, Goa and Manipur are some other places that give great quality weed and hash.
Wondering How To Score Weed?
You can just ask the people in hospitality-bar owners, waiters, hostel workers, etc.-where to score some weed. Police often check up on these establishments, so be subtle and tactful, but if you ask around nicely enough, they'll point you in the right direction.
Don't be afraid to strike up conversations with people puffing away when you see them and feel free to ask hinting questions about smoking.
Asking around at small to mid-sized Shiva temples is another good starting point as it’s no secret that Shiva, one of the main deities in Hinduism, was a regular cannabis user or more colloquially, you could even call him a stoner! Shiva temples most likely have men hanging around in the afternoons and evenings and there's usually someone lurking nearby who sells little packets of ‘smokeables’ to Shiva ‘devotees.’
If you're still struggling, taxi and rickshaw drivers can also be of help from time to time. Quora is also very useful for figuring out where smokers and dealers congregate. "Where to score weed in " is one of the most popular queries.
Can women smoke weed in India safely?
In India, mostly men are associated with the act of smoking. It is viewed as scandalous when people see women smoking whether it's cigarettes or joints. Women, symbols of purity and sacredness dare be associated with a vice such as smoking. It's ironic because weed itself has historically held a religious significance in India. However, in cities and metropolitan areas, women are more likely to be seen as equals. So, it is common to find women smoking at paan shops and smoking weed in the comfort of their homes.
Even on beaches in Karnataka and Goa, Indian and foreign women can be seen smoking on beaches. However, in remote villages, smoking as a woman will definitely bring you some stares but don't feel dejected by the stares, most likely they've never seen a woman smoke so this might normalise it for them.
Beware of scams!
Since the cannabis business is illegal in our homeland, the products aren't regulated and it is easy to get tricked into buying weak and fake marijuana. Beware of these situations when purchasing cannabis strains.
- Bad quality weed: There's a chance that if dealers are unfamiliar with you, they'll try to sell you the worst stuff they have. They might do this to test if you really know what you want, whether you are aware of weed quality or not. But don't let that deter you from asking for a better strain. Be firm and confident in asking what you want and they'll listen.
- Dealers selling 'fake' weed: Make sure to have a proper look at the product before you keep it in your bag. Examine it, and then approve as dealers might not be giving you the real deal.
- Dealers selling incorrect weight: This is if you are very particular and want value for your money. You can carry a small electronic weighing scale for measuring weed, it can be useful when you're whipping up some edibles too. Often dealers will try to give you lesser quantity because well, more profit for them and usually, it's hard to tell if the quantity is accurate unless you are a seasoned buyer.
- Undercover dealers: This is rare but sometimes, the dealers might have teamed up with the police to catch you red-handed in the act. So, it's better if you have someone to vouch for the dealer. In other words, it's safer to buy from someone that is recommended a friend or a trusted person as there are fewer chances of the police getting involved.
Which Places In India Are Weed Friendly?
There's no legal place to smoke a joint - so we have to get a little crafty and sometimes if you're in the right place - no one will bat an eyelid.
- Bros Hostel: Great views, friendly hosts, and different rooms to choose from; this is a great place to smoke up and chill out.
- Red House Cafe : A secluded spot in an apple orchard, what more can you ask for? Chill vibe and lovely owners.
- Orchard House: Another secluded option with a village-like atmosphere. A variety of rooms gives you something to choose from, and the views are amazing.
- Memoir Home & Cafe: Featuring mandatory Bob Marley posters, this place has friendly staff and great views.
- The Hosteller: A chain hostel that does things right. They have bonfires at night and great views .
- Seinfeld's Cafe and Hostel: Close to Anjuna Flea Market, this places offers basic accommodation and chill vibes perfect for lighting up.
- Bunkd Hostel: Friendly staff, good atmosphere, clean rooms , and hammocks!
- Gypsy's Hostel: The name says it all. Nice decor and a fun-loving atmosphere.
- Rasta Hostel : A great party hostel in Arambol.
- ImagiNation : Bills itself as an artist's hostel, thus a perfect place for creatives and everything that comes with the art scene.
- Arambolicious: Close to the beach and a laid-back vibe, this is a great place to kick back and chill.
Green Rover: Walking distance from the beach and decorated with some cool artwork, perfect for kicking back.
- Rainbow Lining Hostel: It's among the cleanest hostels in Goa, and includes a free breakfast for wake and bakers.
- Big Chill : Rustic huts located between beaches, giving you all the incentive to smoke up and explore the area.
- Rocky Guesthouse: Not necessarily the best place to smoke up, but Rocky is a champ who'll help you get the best out of your stay in Hampi . (if you know what I mean)
- Chill Lounge: As the name suggests, this place has a chill lounge area and hammocks to boot. On the other side of the river, away from the bustle of Hampi.
- Naga Palace: Offers basic accommodation near the beach. There are several similar places all along the beach.
- Nirvana Nature: Not the best accommodation , but a great place to smoke up and meet like-minded people.
Aheibam Homestay: A clean and simple place. Hilltop walks and a view of the lake over sunset. Apart, from that, you'll find some good quality weed to get you higher at these already high altitudes.
Apart from the hills and touristy spots, if you live in Delhi and are looking for marijuana paraphernalia, Hasher's Street is the place to go to. According to a report by India Today, Hasher's Street has a row of around 10 shops that sell a variety of products ranging from Italian chillums to South American orchid-scented rolling paper - a fancy alternative to the usual brown rolling papers. Everything related to hash including pipes, mechanical joint rollers, weed crushers, storage boxes, hash oil dispensers, hookahs and tobacco blends is available at these shops.
How much does weed cost in India?
Here's a statewide breakdown, to help out everyone -
- Daporijo: 100 Rs for a little packet of weed, good for 3-4 joints.
- Guwahati: 100 Rs for 10 grams of decent, golden Bhutanese weed.
- Majuli: 20 Rs for a massive bundle of weak wild weed.
- Munger: 20 Rs for a small packet of passable weed without many seeds.
- Baga: 2100 Rs for a tola (10 grams) of very unpleasant and chemical hash.
- Arambol: 3000 Rs for a tola of good Manali hash.
- Manali: 1500 for a tola of homemade hash, 3000 Rs for a tola of ice or Manali Cream.
- Orchha: 200 - 400 Rs for a bag of reasonable weed.
- Khajuraho: 300 - 500 for a tola of reasonable weed.
- Hampi: 800 Rs for 10 grams of uncleaned weed filled with seeds.
- Gokarna: 800 Rs for 7-8 grams of brown weed.
- Kerela: 250 Rs for a bundle with several joints' worth of weed.
- Imphal: 50 Rs for an eighth of passable weed, 200 Rs for 10 grams of weed.
- Shillong: 100 - 150 Rs for a massive bunch of weak wild weed.
- Puri: 80 - 120 Rs for a tola of weed from the government bhang shop.
- Jaipur: 1500 - 2000 Rs for a tola of good hash, 200-300 Rs for a pack of weed.
- Rishikesh: 2000 - 3000 Rs for a tola of decent hash.
- Varanasi: 2500 Rs for a tola of decent hash, and 50 Rs for a medium strength bhang lassi.
- Kolkata: 500 Rs for 25 grams of golden Bhutanese weed (local deal), 300 Rs for a small packet of passable weed (tourist price), 1,100 Rs for a tola of reasonable hash.
Basically, if you are stealthy and in search of a good relaxing period, head over to any of these places and carefully execute your will.
What to do if cops catch you smoking weed?
Well, get ready to spend some time in jail. Nah, we're just kidding. So, chances are that even if a cop does catch you in the act of smoking weed, you would have to do be doing it right in the open. So, it's probably not a good idea to smoke it on the streets or in cafes. In an article by Bingedaily, we had asked several people what happened when cops caught them with weed.
One reader described his and his friend's experience with cops, "So they came and told us that if we want to go the legal way, each one of us would have to pay Rs 20,000 which would amount to a lac since there were five of us. After negotiating for about half an hour, they agreed to let us go by paying Rs 25,000."
A Mumbai resident described his experience, “If an inspector or sub-inspector catches you then it will be harder to convince them to let you go. And you would have to pay a hefty fine of about Rs 20,000-25,000, that's a big dent in your wallet. They might even threaten to call your parents.”
He continues, “However, if you are confronted by a low-level cop, you can get away by bribing him as less as Rs 500. It strongly depends on the location you are smoking in and on your luck. Talk respectfully and try to convince them to take a smaller amount of money as the 'fine'"
If you are standing on the main road with a joint, the cop cars on patrol are likely to stop and catch you but if you are in a secluded lane, cops on bikes may spot you since they often make rounds of shady streets and lanes. So, the best decision would be to score your green and go back home and smoke peacefully.
The long road to legalisation of marijuana in India
When will we be able to walk to our neighbourhood dispensary and buy cannabis without any fear? In the midst of the current pandemic, the legalisation movement may be halted for a while. There are clearly more pertinent issues at hand but avenues can be seen opening up for cannabis cultivation in the distant future.
In 2018, Uttrakhand had become the first state to allow commercial cultivation of the hemp crop for textiles and clothing, apart from that, the huge potential medical uses of cannabis are being used as an incentive to legalise the whole plant. The Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM) has been granted permission by the Centre to grow cannabis for medical research in collaboration with Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai. However, they are still seeking regulatory approval to begin the trials.
In 2019, two Indian states announced their plan to study the medical usage of cannabis
The year 2019 was important for marijuana as two Indian states pondered upon legalising the use of cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes. In 2019, Madhya Pradesh had announced their plan to legalise the medical use of marijuana. The same year, the NDPS under the revenue wing of the Union Finance Ministry began to conduct research on CBD and THC, two major compounds in weed. In a series of good events, even Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh had announced that the cabinet would consider the possibility of legalization of cannabis for medicinal benefits through start-ups.
As we said, it's a long road, and judging by the efficiency of the Indian legal system, it may be a while till marijuana is legalised and cannabis laws relaxed. But fear not, we sympathise with the plight of stoners, hence the guide.