Center supports a balanced approach empowering State governments to permit, control, and regulate the cultivation of Cannabis
Less than a week ago, in another milestone attempt, the Centre clarified the affidavit filed last year, elucidating the system already in place.
“In its affidavit filed last year, the Centre urged the court to dismiss the petition with costs and claimed that it has “adopted a balanced approach on cannabis” by empowering the State governments to “permit, control and regulate the cultivation of any cannabis plant, production, manufacture, possession, transport, import inter-state, export inter-state, sale, purchase, consumption or use of cannabis (excluding charas) for medical, scientific and industrial purposes.” Hemp is a widely grown crop across India. However, despite such availability, farming hemp is restrictive in India. Currently, there is no approved variety of seeds that can be used for mass propagation. On the other hand, even the citizens of India lack knowledge or misunderstand the difference between Cannabis and Medical Cannabis.
What will help citizens identify the difference is the awareness of the THC level in the fruiting top of the crop versus the leaves and stem of the crop. Knowledge of this can enhance the natural use of this crop for medicinal purposes.
Currently, the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances or the NDPS Act of 1985 prohibits and limits the sale and use of resin and flowers of the Hemp Plant (Cannabis). However, the same act sets aside the use of seeds, stems, and leaves (Medical Cannabis). To put the same in colloquial terms, Ganja or Charas is illegal in India. Bhang is legal and popularly used across the nation.
Hemp, popularly also known as the Wonder Crop of the Himalayas, come with a train of benefits. Luckily the residents of Northern India are well versed with this ,nine-thousand-year-old crop, the benefits it holds, and are regular users of this crop. Hemp is said to have over ~25,000 proven usages. In this region, locals have been using hemp for fabric, oil, edible seeds, medical purposes, and much more.
India as a nation has slowly started its journey towards adopting a rational attitude towards the crop in the fields of medicine and science, enabling the state governments to grow the crop in a specific and structured manner.
The Uttarakhand State Government is the first Indian state to pass a policy for the commercial cultivation and propagation of Industrial Hemp. Uttar Pradesh is another Indian state to legalize its cultivation. While states like Himachal Pradesh and Manipur are still exploring the option.
Today, with a market size value of USD 4.13 billion in the year 2021, the growth rate is being pegged at a CAGR of 16.2% with a revenue forecast of USD 12.01 billion in 2028.
These staggering figures coincide with the versatility that this plant holds. There is an array of ways in which hemp can be used that is fuelling the interest and participation of entrepreneurs across India. Today the market hosts some of the key players such as Bombay Hemp Company, India Hemp Organics, Health Horizons, HempCann Solutions, Hempstrol and many more to enter.
Despite such progress in the industry, the people taking hemp forward are often met with challenges due to the lack of knowledge or acceptance in society. In a country with many traditional and cultural usages and references of Cannabis, there seems to be a constant struggle faced by such entrepreneurs and other professionals.
Medical Cannabis is recognized worldwide as a pain management drug. Along with other medical benefits, such as arthritis pain management, managing weight, muscle repair, and recovery, alternative cancer treatment, depression and stress, regulating seizures, Alzheimer's, treating ADHD and ADD, treating glaucoma, and so on.
Recently, medical research was led by Richard van Breemen a researcher with Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Centre in the College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute, in collaboration with scientists at the Oregon Health & Science University.
According to which two cannabinoid acids commonly found in hemp varietals of cannabis, cannabigerolic acid or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, also known as CBDA, can bind to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. By binding to the spike protein, the compounds can prevent the virus from entering cells and causing infection. Potentially offering new avenues to prevent and treat the disease.
A crop such as Hemp should not have a blanket embargo. Possessing a mammoth of scientific, medicinal, and industrial benefits, a solution must be reached.
Today the wise solution to this would be a sensible set of laws regulating, permitting, and legitimizing the use of hemp for medicinal, scientific, and industrial use. A rational vision towards the crop by Industry leaders is the need of the hour. And to top it all, the sheer contribution to the economy and upliftment of agriculture should be a compelling reason to relook at the current laws and revamp the perception of the crop.