Though there still exists a stigma around marijuana and its use, the movement to legalize the substance has been gaining steam throughout the world.
10 states in the US have already legalized it, while as many as 33 have approved it for medical purposes. In 2018, Canada became the second country in the world that legalized cannabis for recreational use. Even Latin American Countries like Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and Columbia have legalized it for medical use or decriminalized cannabis for personal use to some degree.
Come to Asia, and the story is slightly different. Cannabis legalization isn’t how on the priority list of many governments in the region, except for Thailand. The is ramping up medical marijuana legalization efforts that will soon allow all Thais to cultivate six cannabis plants in their homes and sell their home-grown harvest to the government, to turn into medical marijuana. Countries like the Philippines and Indonesia have some of the strictest marijuana laws in the world
India on the other hand, is somewhere in between. Cannabis is extensively used and traded in the country, although illegally. A 2019 study conducted by the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences reported that about 7.2 million Indians had consumed cannabis within the past year. According to a UNODC report, the retail price of cannabis in India was US$0.10 per gram, the lowest of any country in the world.
If you go by the law, weed is still illegal in the country. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act has banned the production and sale of cannabis resin and flowers, but permitted the use of the leaves and seeds, allowing the states to regulate the latter.
However come 2020, there are several signs to indicate that this may be a big year in the movement to legalize weed in India. Here’s why
Growing State Support For Weed Legalization
Over the last couple of years, several Indian states and public leaders have reacted positively and provided their assent when it comes to the debate regarding legalising weed in the country.
In 2018, Uttrakhand became the first state in the country to allow commercial cultivation of the hemp crop. The state government even, granted a licence to the Indian Industrial Hemp Association (IIHA), to grow the fibre over 1,000 hectares, on a pilot basis.
Following the ruling, the year also saw the Madhya Pradesh government follow suit. Madhya Pradesh’s Law Minister P.C. Sharma reported to the press that the state government has decided to legalise the cultivation of cannabis in the state for medical and industrial purpose. However, since that announcement, progress on the issue has stalled, with no further development taking place.
Another positive news arose out of Manipur last year, the state which is reported to have some of the highest quality weed in the country. N Biren Singh, Manipur’s Chief Minister in a press conference revealed that the government was seriously considering legalising medical marijuana to help boost the state’s revenue. He even suggested that start-ups could be involved in the legalization process, provided they showed a high potential to be part of this industry.
With acceptance towards the medicinal properties of cannabis growing amongst Indian lawmakers, the growing state support is only a positive sign for the movement. Let’s hope the discussion gathers steam in 2020 and comes to the forefront, which could lead to further positive developments when it comes to weed legalization in India.
First Cannabis Clinic In Bangalore
Right now with weed being illegal and its possession drawing some serious punishment, you can’t even imagine a store publicly selling weed in India right?
Well, February 2020 is when all of that changed, as the country welcomed its first Medical Cannabis Clinic in Bangalore.
Started by Odisha based start-up HempCann Solutions, Vedi Herbals as the clinic is called will reportedly sell tablets and oils made from the cannabis plant. The clinic will prescribe cannabis-infused tablets to improve health and wellness.
The clinic employs a set of ayurvedic doctors that can provide prescriptions for medicines tackling anxiety, inflammation and problems related to sex. Vedi Herbals specializes in tackling issues like stress, back pain and fever and even chronic diseases like anorexia. The clinic sells a series of tablets, powders and cannabis oil as part of its offerings.
With the clinic being granted a pan India license, its success in Bangalore could pave the way for its expansion throughout the country.
The Great Legalization Movement
For any movement to succeed, it needs capable leaders who’re up to the task of bringing change, and Viki Vaurora is exactly that. The founder of The Great Legalisation Movement India (GLM India), he leads a non-profit organization which aims to legalise the use of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes in India.
The movement has long been trying to change the way Indians think about weed, striving to remove the stigma surrounding the substance. From Cannabis conferences, producing web series to even legally challenged the NDPS Act in Court, the organization has been leading the charge when it comes to weed legalization in India.
In the summer of 2019, the Delhi High Court admitted a writ petition filed by GLM seeking decriminalisation of cannabis under the NDPS. With the next date scheduled in 2020, the case could be the trigger point that begins the movement to legalize weed in India.
While there is no guarantee whether cannabis will ever be legalized in India, this year’s development certainly paints a promising picture. If everything works out, 2020 could be a pivotal year for the legalization of marijuana in the Indian context.