This article on ‘Laws Related To Marijuana In India: All You Need to Know’ is written by Thota Sai Srinija, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
“Know it all, before you get into it!“
This article helps to know about the legality of the consumption of Marijuana and gives the outline of those laws in order to determine and analyze the scope of such laws. The knowledge that is obtained from this article is crucial and prevents one from getting into serious trouble. This article focuses on specific statutes that govern the issues related to the consumption of marijuana in India. Let’s understand the terms and also the legality of the above concept.
What is ‘weed’?
Weed is commonly termed as an unwanted plant, which is considered not to be grown in the household and public places. Cannabis sativa usually called hemp, marijuana, ganja, and many other names is a kind of weed that is considered a non-narcotic drug. It is a psychoactive drug that affects the brain and has more potential than alcohol to stay in the human body. Weed is a thing that affects the human body mentally, physically, and emotionally as well. At the same time, the cannabis plant is also used for medicinal purposes by the isolation of non-psychoactive compounds of the plant.
What are the Laws Related To Marijuana In India and their application?
If you are a person who regularly follows the news, specifically related to the movie industry i.e., Bollywood then there can be no doubt that you have come across the term NDPS Act. This term has been in hype from the issue of Rhea Chakraborty to Aryan khan (recent ones).
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 is the legislation made by the central government and hence applies to the whole of India. However, every state in the country has separate legislation which specifically applies to that particular state. Hence, it is clear by now that marijuana is not legal in India.
As discussed, earlier Marijuana is known by many names, and some are based on the part of the plant they belong to. Section 2 (ii) of the NDPS Act, 1985, while defining weed states two terms ‘charas’ and ‘ganja’. Where charas is understood as resins of the plant and ganja as the fruiting or flowering bodies of the plant.
While defining the term weed under Section 2 in NDPS Act, 1985 it is also mentioned that hemp means any mixture made in addition to or without any other third material of any part of the plant mentioned above as a drink. Hence, it is understood that the sale and manufacturing of cannabis resin, fruit tops, and flowers are only considered to be illegal but not the whole plant as other parts of plant-like seeds and leaves are allowed for sale legally.
The application of the above law is not complete because of various factors like medical, scientific, industrial, and cultural purposes. The crucial part of this law is there is no consideration of mens rea (intention) while prosecution. The mere fact is the sole ingredient in the Act.
According to Section 10 of the NDPS Act, 1985 state has the authority to formulate the state rules and govern accordingly. Some states consider marijuana legal under this authority like Odisha and Uttarakhand. Other than NDPS Act and state laws there is another statute that governs the issues related to weed which is The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000, which specifically deals with the juveniles.
The legality of Marijuana In India
If you are an Indian you could have definitely come across the festival ‘Holi’ and what’s famous in that festival other than colors? Have you ever heard the term ‘bhang’? you did right. The complexity of the legality of marijuana revolves around the term bhang.
Bhang is served as ‘Thandai’, which is a drink or milkshake on the occasion of Holi in India. However, it is made of leaves and seeds of the cannabis plant so it stands not to be illegal. Hence, bhang is openly consumed in the country. Although there are certain rules applied to possession and consumption that they must be licensed.
Punishments based on Quantity Consumed
According to Section 20 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 production, sale/purchase, transportation, interstate import/export, or any other commercial activity of cannabis is punishable,
The term of the punishment is based on quantity where it is divided into two categories, there are as follows –
- Small quantity
- Commercial quantity
Hence, there are three different punishments on that basis for possessing the ganja, where,
- The punishment for holding a small quantity is rigorous imprisonment for up to 6 months, a fine of Rs. 10,000 or both. The small quantity over hear refers to up to 1 Kilogram(s).
- The punishment for holding more than a small quantity but less than the commercial quantity which is between 1 kilogram(s) to 20 kilograms is rigorous imprisonment for up to 10 years, a fine of Rs. 1 lakh, or both.
- The punishment for holding a commercial quantity which is 20 kilograms and above is rigorous imprisonment for up to 10-20 years, fine of Rs. 1-2 lakh, or both.
A person is prosecuted under Section 27 of the NDPS Act, 1985 for the consumption of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances. And it is noted that the act committed under this section is a non-bailable offense as mentioned under Section 37 of the same Act.
Whereas Section 28 & Section 29 of the same Act lays down the punishment for attempting to commit such crime and abet or conspire respectively.
That’s where we can conclude that weed or marijuana is not legal in India but its social acceptance is rooted in mythology and Ayurveda. The negativity of cannabis has been suppressed over the medicinal and cultural needs that are been noticed. However, there are strict rules in case of possession and consumption of marijuana under the provided statutes and they successfully regulate such transactions. Indian law provides that liberty to every state make or mend their own rules accordingly which made some states legalize some aspects of marijuana. Hence this area of leniency may lead to the legalization of Marijuana in India!
- Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
- Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000,
- Rachit Garg, Is weed legal in India <https://blog.ipleaders.in/is-weed-legal-in-india/> (13 March 2022).
- Prachi Darji, Is Weed or Marijuana Legal in India?, <https://www.myadvo.in/blog/is-weed-or-marijuana-legal-in-india/> (09 August 2019).