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The History and Ban of Weed/Cannabis in India: Exploring the Roots of Marijuana's Legal Status

weed ban in india

Marijuana, also known as weed, ganja or cannabis, has been used for medicinal and recreational purposes for thousands of years. However, its legal status in different parts of the world has been a subject of debate and controversy for many decades. In India, the use and cultivation of cannabis have a rich cultural and historical significance, but the plant is currently illegal under Indian law. In this blog, we will explore the history of weed in India, the reasons behind its ban, and some frequently asked questions related to its use and legal status.

History of Cannabis in India:

The use of cannabis in India dates back to ancient times. It was considered a sacred plant in Hinduism, used for spiritual purposes, and was also used in Ayurvedic medicine for various ailments. The earliest recorded use of cannabis in India can be found in the Atharva Veda, one of the four Vedas (sacred texts) of Hinduism, which was written around 2000 BCE. The text describes the plant as a source of happiness, a joy-giver, and a liberator.

During the Mughal era in India (1526-1857), cannabis was widely used as a recreational drug among the nobility. The Mughal emperor Babur is said to have enjoyed smoking cannabis, and it was also popular among his successors. However, it was during the British colonial era in India (1858-1947) that cannabis use became more widespread.

The British introduced cannabis cultivation in India to meet the demand for fiber and rope. The plant was grown on a large scale in regions such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and it was also used for medicinal purposes. However, the British also saw cannabis use as a social evil and introduced laws to regulate and eventually ban it.

Reasons for the Ban on Cannabis in India:

The first major step towards the ban on cannabis/weed in India was the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission report of 1894. The report recommended that cannabis be regulated rather than banned, but it also highlighted some negative effects of cannabis use, such as addiction and mental illness.

In 1961, India signed the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which classified cannabis as a Schedule I drug, along with other drugs such as heroin and cocaine. This led to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) of 1985, which made cannabis illegal in India.

The reasons behind the ban on cannabis in India are complex and multifaceted. Some argue that it was driven by the British colonial authorities' desire to control the Indian population and suppress their cultural practices. Others point to the negative effects of cannabis use, such as addiction and mental illness, as the main reasons behind the ban. However, there is also a growing movement in India and around the world to legalize cannabis for medicinal and recreational use, citing its potential health benefits and economic opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Is cannabis legal in India?

A. No, cannabis is illegal in India under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985.

Q. Can cannabis be used for medicinal purposes in India?

A. Under certain conditions, cannabis can be used for medicinal purposes in India. The NDPS Act allows for the cultivation, possession, and use of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes, but only with the permission of the government.

Q. What are the potential health benefits of cannabis?

A. Cannabis has been shown to have potential health benefits in the treatment of various ailments, including chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and cancer. However, more research is needed to fully understand its therapeutic potential.

Q. What is the economic potential of legalizing cannabis?

A. Legalizing cannabis has the potential to create new industries and jobs, boost tax revenue for governments, and reduce the burden on the criminal justice system. In countries where cannabis has been legalized, such as Canada and some US states, the industry has generated billions of dollars in revenue.

Q. Are there any risks associated with cannabis use?

A. Like any drug, cannabis use can have risks and side effects. These include impaired coordination, memory and concentration problems, and an increased risk of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. It can also be addictive for some people.


The history and ban of cannabis in India are intertwined with the country's cultural and colonial past. While cannabis has been used for thousands of years in India for medicinal and spiritual purposes, its legal status has been a subject of controversy and debate. With the growing movement for legalization around the world, it remains to be seen whether India will follow suit and allow for the regulated use of cannabis. However, as with any drug, it is important to understand the potential risks and benefits and make informed decisions regarding its use.


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