Tuesday, November 13, 2012

#50. Further on Bhang, Ganja, Charas etc.

Further on Ganja, Bhang, Charas etc.

Times of India of 11 November 2012 has given detailed information  on the subject.
 Cannabis indica leaves, buds and flowers give what are commonly known as bhang, hashish (charas),
And marijuana (grass or ganja), also known as pot, weed, hash etc. Two American
states, Washington and Colorado, have decided to  legalize recreational use of
marijuana(ganja). 19 US states have already  legalized marijuana for medical
purposes. India for millennia  have used them for recreational purposes, but
succumbing to US pressure in 1985 enacted the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic
Substances Act which clubs marijuana, hashish and bhang with hard drugs like
smack, heroin, cocaine, and crack, and banned them all. This poorly thought out act
has led to corruption and harassment of ordinary people.  It is also thought that this act has has pushed the entire trade from peddling grass to smack, and worse to higher profits, and creating a real drug problem which was not there  earlier. A respectable opposition leader  who has been a Minister in the Union government served (diluted) opium water to the guests who came for a marriage ceremony at his place. The matter did not get worse that it was soon discovered that
what was done was a customarily done thing in that part of the country. Whereas I am not
carrying a brief for opium as it is addictive, but certainly for cannabis products as they
are neither addictive nor harmful. Tetrahydrocannabino and cannabidiol affect certain brain regions causing relaxation, introspection,lowering of worry and leads to hunger and sleep. The effect reportedly lasts for 2 to 3 hours if it is smoked (charas and ganja) and upto 24 hours if ingested (bhang). It is also the third most consumed recreational drug after alcohol and  tobacco.

Marijuana has been found to have positive effects in diseases like migraine, multiple sclerosis, asthma, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, alcoholism, insomnia glaucoma, and obsessive compulsive disorder.   

Please do not be misled into thinking that the large scale use of bhang during Holi  or  the bhang which is sold by almost all the thandai-sellers in Varanasi is illegal. NDPS Act 1985 excludes leaves and seeds of cannabis from the ambit of illegality. Thus even for hashish and marijuana, if it is proved that it is made from leaves and seeds of the plant, it will not attract the penal provisons of the Act. It can be said however, that for the Narcotics
Control Board or the local police it is  difficult to prove the use of buds and flowers as the plant  grows wild in many parts of the country, especially the terai region of the Himalayas. In both Dehradun and Darbhanga I have seen it growing wild in open lands. 

TOI report has also given three lists: the first of those countries that have decriminalized, and relaxed either partially or fully the use of cannabis products. This contains Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Czech republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Iran, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela and the United States (?). The second list is of States which still have cannabis in the illegal category. These are, Austria, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Denmark, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Sweden. The third list is of  the countries where the use is illegal, but infringement  tolerated, viz, Egypt, Finland, Italy, Jamaica, INDIA, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Sri Lanka, and UK.

Considering that about 119 to 224 million of adult world population (2.6 to 5 per cent)  use cannabis, it is high time that India also  comes in the first category, especially when even the US which pressurized India to enact the Act is also veering round to relaxing the penal provisions against cannabis products. Bam Bhole!

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