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Where Does India Stand Legally On Medical Cannabis?

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Medical cannabis, or Vijaya, exhibits wide-ranging therapeutic properties. But the modern world remained largely ignorant of its divine health benefits. Its unfortunate image of being a life-ruining gateway drug stems from the hemp plant’s recreational use, leading to widespread social stigma. 

Over the years, as society was met with data from credible resources like scientific experiments and clinical trials, accompanied by positive anecdotal evidence, people started to view Vijaya in a more positive light. Let us discover what makes the hemp plant so beneficial and how the changing social perspective has affected the herb’s legality in India.

Vijaya’s Importance in Medicine

Vijaya is one of the most revered herbs in Ayurveda and has been medically leveraged for centuries. It finds mention in many classic scriptures and Ayurvedic texts, including the Vedas, the Sushruta Samhita, and other texts dated before 1000 CE.

Numerous researchers and institutions worldwide have conducted various clinical trials and studies on the efficacy and safety profile of the hemp plant. They have found that the herb exhibits remarkable pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, it helps alleviate conditions like-

  • Gut disorders (IBS, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, ulcers, Crohn’s disease, etc.)
  • Mental health problems (stress, depression, anxiety, etc.) 
  • Mood disorders
  • Sleep issues like insomnia
  • Sexual health problems (erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, low libido, etc.)
  • Adverse side effects of conventional prescription medications and treatment methods
  • Physical dependency on addictive drugs like opioids
  • Harmful post-operative symptoms, especially among cancer patients

This is why modern medical professionals and healthcare experts increasingly prescribe it to their patients to help them find relief from various acute and chronic health conditions and manage the associated symptoms safely and holistically. 

A Brief History of Indian Laws around Vijaya

The laws around the hemp plant and its derived cannabis-based medicines vary among countries. They further differ in terms of the herb’s cultivation, distribution, and usage. Countries like Argentina, Australia, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK, as well as parts of the US (37 states and 4 territories), have legalized the medical usage of Vijaya.

While India has also legalized cannabis-based medicines now, it had a complex history with the herb, especially after the British attempted to criminalize it. In 1961, the international treaty Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs defined ‘cannabis’ as the flowering and fruiting tops of the hemp plant and classified it as a hard drug.

The 1985 Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) maintained the same practice by prohibiting the use of Vijaya’s resin and flowers but permitting the use of its leaves and seeds. Cultivating Vijaya for industrial and horticulture use was, and still is, legal in India. 

Moreover, the Government of India has always encouraged the cultivation and scientific and medical research of the herb having low THC content (one of the main naturally-occurring compounds in Vijaya). Besides that, different states in the country have different laws that prohibit or restrict this herb’s usage.

The Upturn

In 2015, the Great Legalization Movement in India (founded in 2014) held medical cannabis conferences in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, and Pune, seeking to spread awareness about Vijaya’s overlooked therapeutic potential and alter the laws around the herb. 

Gradually various Lok Sabha MPs and ministers started expressing their support for Vijaya’s legalization and sought to amend the NDPS act to allow for the plant’s medically supervised, regulated, and legalized access.

On December 9, 2020, at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), India voted in favor of removing Vijaya from the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The resolution was passed with most countries in favor of the view.

The Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Jai Ram Thakur, in March 2021, indicated that the government was coming up with a policy to allow for regulated cultivation and usage of Vijaya in the state.

Finally, in January 2022, the Central Government affirmed the Delhi High Court and said that the medical use of Vijaya is allowed in India. The Centre further empowered the State Governments to permit/license, control, and regulate the cultivation, production, manufacture, transport, import/export, sale/purchase, and consumption of Vijaya and its derived cannabis-based medicines for industrial, horticultural, scientific, and medical purposes.

What Makes Medical Cannabis Different From Recreational?

There is a significant difference between the cannabis-based medicines derived from Vijaya and the consumption of the hemp plant for recreational purposes. The herb contains hundreds of naturally occurring compounds called cannabinoids. Some of them have incredible health benefits, while others show a psychoactive effect.

Ingesting or smoking the crude herb causes harm to the system because of all the cannabinoids being consumed together. On the other hand, the development and production of cannabis-based medicines involve isolating only useful cannabinoids and refining them for medicinal consumption.

Different medicines are developed with different concentrations of cannabinoids depending upon the type of health conditions they will be used for. Hence, there is no overdose of these compounds, and the body can leverage only the required amount. 

In addition, cannabis-based medicines like the Trailokya Vijaya VatiBilwadi ChurnaKameshwar Modaka, etc., are natural concoctions that combine Vijaya’s therapeutic efficacy with other vital Ayurvedic herbs. Their herbal compositions make them safer and much more effective than traditional prescription pharmaceuticals and allow the formulations to have a holistic action on the system.

To fully leverage Vijaya’s vast potential of providing relief from physiological and psychological health issues, you must get the right consultation from the best Ayurvedic doctors and know the right dosage. At Hempstreet, you can consult top Ayurvedic professionals across India and get a personalized treatment regime to help alleviate your health conditions comprehensively.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_cannabis

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_in_India

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/no-complete-ban-on-cannabis-medical-use-allowed-centre-tells-delhi-high-court/articleshow/88817782.cms?from=mdr

https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/medicinal-cannabis-what-is-it-and-is-it-different-to-marijuana#:~:text=Essentially%2C%20the%20terms%20medicinal%20marijuana,it%20to%20treat%20medical%20conditions.

https://www.acquiesce.org.uk/differences-between-recreational-weed-and-medicinal-marijuana/

Hempstreet is India's first and largest research to retail player in the medicinal cannabis space with a network of 60,000 ayurvedic practitioners across the country.

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