Trade of Cannabis Worldwide and its Impact on Society.

Cannabis is a weed and is a hallucinating drug which when consumed creates an intoxicating effect on a person. The addiction amongst some people for marijuana or cannabis is the reason for its worldwide trade, sale, and consumption which has led to the increased sale of marijuana. Therefore measures are being taken worldwide by Governments of various countries to ban marijuana as a drug and prohibit its trade, sale, and consumption by making marijuana an illegal substance.

Online or e-commerce companies such as Amazon, Flipkart, eBay that sell or trade-in cannabis or marijuana products have come under the scanner of India’s drug regulatory authority for their potentially illegal sales of cannabis-based drugs such as cannabis oil, hemp oil, hash oil from their online platforms.

As per the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, the intelligence cell of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) is evaluating whether the claims made by these online sellers violate the provisions of the act.

Delhi High Court issues notice to Centre on a plea challenging the prohibition on the use of Cannabis

The Delhi High Court has sought Centre’s response over a plea challenging certain provisions of the law that prohibits and criminalizes the use of cannabis. A division bench presided by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and C. Harishankar issued a notice to Centre over a plea filed by Great Legalisation Movement India Trust (GLMIT).

The Petitioner challenged the constitutional validity of the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) and the NDPS Rules which prohibits and criminalizes the use of cannabis and restricts its use.                                                                              During the course of hearing, the Petitioner’s counsel requested the court to distinguish his plea with another plea which was filed earlier. The previous plea had sought for the Legalisation of the drug, however, the present petition only challenges the sections of the NDPS Act.

It has also been submitted that while enacting the NDPS Act, the government failed to consider the medicinal benefits of the drug, including its effect as an analgesic, its role in fighting cancer, reducing nausea and increasing appetite in HIV patients.

The plea has sought court’s directions to the government to frame rules permitting and regulating the use of cannabis, especially for medicinal purposes.

Why is the Government making marijuana illegal?

As compared to adults, adolescents are at a greater risk of consuming marijuana which may cause physical and psychological problems in their lives.

In order to curb the sale and trade of marijuana or cannabis in the country, the Government of India has banned its use and declared it as an illegal substance. The Government has banned Cannabis trade by spending its resources to arrest drug traffickers, drug addicts, and offenders by cutting down marijuana plantations which are the source for the supply of illegal marijuana or cannabis in India. However, inspite of Government measures to stop illegal trading of marijuana or cannabis, there are many offenders who escape the law and indulge in marijuana or drug trafficking in India. Their primary targets are schools and colleges where they lure the adolescents in having drugs and spoil their career. There are Drug-Rehabilitation centers of many social institutions that strive for a drug-free society and help such drug-addicted adolescents to give them gradual relief from their drug addiction. Drug addiction causes social and cultural apathy of a drug addict which hampers his socio-economic development.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the world with an estimated 125 million people consuming it worldwide in some form or the other every year. In India, marijuana or cannabis is consumed as charas (hash), bhang and weed. However, the implementation of stringent narcotic laws in 1986 made the sale, consumption, production, and transportation of marijuana illegal in the country. Should marijuana be legalized in India since it will eliminate illegal trade and associated crimes

The black market of marijuana production and its distribution is an ‘overboard industry’.

When the cannabis trade will be regulated by legislation it will be populated by government agents, farmers, merchants, and retail clerks and not by criminals or drug dealers. However, at present, the illegal trade of marijuana is booming at an alarming rate worldwide in the black market. Since marijuana production is banned worldwide, its demand is increasing because legal marijuana is still usually more expensive than weed purchased illegally. People buy and sell marijuana illegally under the scanner of law and make money. This money is unaccounted and is mostly used for hawala or black market dealings by criminals and smugglers. 

Taxing marijuana will increase the government’s revenue

By legalizing and taxing marijuana, the government will stand to earn huge amounts of revenue that would otherwise go to the Italian and Israeli drug cartels. In an open letter to US President George Bush, around 500 economists, led by Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman, called for marijuana to be “legal but taxed and regulated like other goods”.

Marijuana use has medical benefits. Studies have shown that the use of marijuana has dozens of medical benefits. It treats glaucoma, prevents cancer from spreading to other parts of the body, reduces anxiety, slows the progress of Alzheimer’s disease, improves metabolism and is even said to spur creativity in our brain.

In states like Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, where cannabis plants are grown, marijuana is the only source of income for many locals. However, being a banned substance, the farmers are forced to sell it at a very cheap price to the drug dealers and they face additional pressure from the police as well, who are paid to destroy the cannabis plantations. 

The disputed consequences of the proposed legislation 

Individuals in support of legalizing marijuana suggest that this step shall regulate the quality of marijuana sold to consumers as back door dealers often mix hash and weed with chemicals of other drugs like opium to improve the taste, color, texture, and effect. In furtherance, the sale of marijuana will be also regulated. The careful consideration of the petition is based on the very nature of marijuana as it is known to be addictive. Regular consumption of marijuana might lead to withdrawal symptoms. Various State Governments regulate ‘Bhang’(paste derived from Cannabis) as it is believed to be ‘prasad’(food blessed from God ) as it is a part of their tradition and festive celebrations.  

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Advocate Aditya Pratap
About Advocate Aditya Pratap 64 Articles
Aditya Pratap is a lawyer practising in Mumbai. He argues cases in the Bombay High Court, Sessions and Magistrate Courts, along with appearances before RERA, NCLT and the Family Court. For further information one may visit his website adityapratap.in or view his YouTube Channel to see his interviews. Questions can be emailed to him at aditya@adityapratap.com.