The Curious Case Of Cannabis

Ganja, Bhang, Hashish, Hemp or Marijuana all slangs for that one lone plant cannabis, a psychoactive drug which has been used for recreational purposes since medieval time. Whether you know it or not you must have crossed this plant who many in today’s day and age consider a taboo, the babas smoking their chillums or people on holi enjoying the cold and sweet drink enriched with bhang. A plant whose composition reacts with neuro sensors in your brain and releases large amounts of reward chemical or in simple words ”Gets you High”. Making it mildly addictive, to say the least. From the Kush mountains of the Himalayas to The Californian Valley, Clearly, there’s no shortage of the plant and at the same time, the consumers you could say are endless. Contrary to popular belief no cannabis was not first grown in California or in a more general sense, not in that side of the world, To understand how we reached the current situation I think explaining how it all began and the economics that drive this drug is quite relevant.

Like most plants, Even cannabis can be roughly categorised as mainly two species the head high Sativa or the body high Indica the evidence of whose origins can be traced all around the world. From China whos Nobel people described the plant as giving a blissful trip to Siberia. Believe it or not, Cannabis is indigenous to Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, out of which hemp was probably the first plant cultivated and was used to make clothes, shoes, ropes and paper(no not rolling paper). Hemp is also another word for ganja in Sanskrit, the use of which is mentioned in several Indian texts before 1000 CE. Well with the gradual cultivation of this drug its several health benefits came to light which were 

  • Relief of chronic pains 
  • Improves lung capacity (highly doubt it but ill take the internet’s word for it)
  • Weight loss
  • Regulated seizures 
  • Treats glaucoma 
  • Helps with ADHA
  • Delas with pain linked arthritis 

and well all help achieve a mental state not quite possible with other controlled substances. 

So how did this plant indigenous to mostly the Indian peninsular and China spread across the globe (well with the high that it caused I’m pretty sure it could’ve flown itself) well its easier explained with a simple flow chart 

West Himalayas –> Central Asia –> Europe –>North West Africa –> South America –> Snoop Dogg 

 In the same way, poppy and its derivative opium had specific trade routes so did Cannabis which led to its rapid expansion all around the globe. People were quickly able to recognize the large demand and ease of actually cultivating such a plant locally, drastically reducing costs and increasing the margin the plant could be sold at by the cultivator. However this usually meant illegal land was being used as growing spots and dormant illegal trade routes were made active once again, Hence began one of the most back and forth confrontation against cannabis and narcotics by governments across the globe. 

You must be wondering even with such a rich cultural history especially in India cannabis should be legal but no, This is mainly because of India and its government trying to conform with the norms of First world counties during the late twentieth century, in which most of the countries had already criminalized its use and cultivation. The main issue during the time wasn’t the actual use of the drug in recreational or medical ways but instead the problems that precedes with the slinging(slang for moving drugs duh) of this plant. Controlling it through legislation was expensive and time-consuming so most countries decided to ban it altogether, Similarly in the case of India through the Narcotic Drugs And psychotropic substances act of 1985 which criminalized it use and made it a criminal offence to be in possession of such a drug. However different states have their own laws on the cultivation and consumption of hemp and marijuana, For eg Odisha is a state where weed is legal and Uttrakhand has legalized the cultivation of Hemp. Unlike the lobbyists of cannabis have not always been successful in India, however, we see a shifting trend a shift toward re legalizing cannabis led by the Great Legalization Movement of India. 

If we look at the economics of it it’s not particularly a profitable business even the legal ones spread across the Californian valley require large amounts of seed(no not cannabis seeds) money just to start the business but nevertheless, the market potential is huge and most importantly untaped, in the United States alone the marijuana industry is estimated to be at 13.8 billion dollars and expected to jump the size 9 times that by 2027. 

But it is what it is, until clearer laws and legislation can be formed in Inda it will still remain a criminalized substance in most states. Reforms are there but nothing drastic, not enough for the millions of cannabis users here in India to be made a job and income-generating industry. In no way is any substance which can be good for anybody, there will always remain certain pros and cons for any controlled substance such as cannabis. In such cases the need to find a balance is a must, this balance must come from a person at an interpersonal level.

Cannabis has been part of India’s rich history for thousands of years in which there was complete harmony among the people who decided to use it and people who dint. I feel limiting such a substance has not had an impact in people pressuring it. the best way moving forward would be to legalize it in a controlled manner where acquiring it is not easy but not impossible either, which would be the foremost way to achieve the said balance.

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