The high-profile drugs case linked to the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput has always made sensational headlines on news channels and has put many celebrities in question. This case has generated renewed interest in the legality of weed or marijuana in India. In recent times, allegedly chat messages from actors discussing the purchase of cannabis products such as hash have been widely shared.
The Centre’s law about cannabis in India can be found in the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (although there are many states that also have their own laws around cannabis). The law prohibits and criminalizes the sale, possession, transportation and cultivation of cannabis in some forms in India.
The NDPS Act, when it comes to cannabis, includes:
Charas, which is “dissociated resin, in any form, whether raw or pure, is obtained from the cannabis plant and includes concentrated preparations and resin known as hashish oil or liquid hashish is”
Hemp, “flowers or fruiting tops of hemp plant (except seeds and leaves when not along the top)”;
And “any mixture, with or without any neutral ingredients, of any of the above forms of cannabis or of any beverage prepared from it”.
In particular, the Act specifically prohibits the sale and production of cannabis resin and flowers, while the use of seeds and leaves is permitted.
In addition to the NDPS Act, states have the power to draft their own laws on cannabis. Section 10 of the NDPS Act allows states to “allow cultivation, production, manufacture, possession, transportation, import inter-state, export inter-state, sale, purchase consumption or use of cannabis (excluding charas) of any cannabis plant and Allows to be regulated. ”For example, Uttarakhand became the first state in India to allow commercial cultivation of hemp in 2018. Another state law is the Assam Ganja and cannabis prohibition act which makes the purchase, consumption and possession of cannabis illegal as well as cannabis.
What if you get caught with weed?
Section 20 of the NDPS Act talks about penalties for manufacturing, possessing, selling, buying, transporting, importing and exporting or using manufactured medicine or any preparation involving any manufactured drug.
For violations of small amounts, rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or a fine which may extend to Rs 10,000, or both.
If the quantity is less than the commercial quantity but more than the small quantity, the rigorous imprisonment can be extended up to 10 years and the fine up to Rs 1 lakh.
For cases involving commercial quantities, rigorous imprisonment shall not be less than 10 years, but may extend to 20 years. Fines of less than Rs 1 lakh (which can be increased to two lakhs) can also be imposed.
For hemp and cannabis resin (hashish and hashish) the low to commercial volume is defined as 100 grams to one kilogram.
Additionally, the Juvenile Justice Act provides separate rules for minors possessing, consuming or selling cannabis. Therefore, those below 18 years of age cannot be prosecuted under the NDPS Act.
But is cannabis legal in India?
Bhang, which is made using the leaves of the hemp plant, has a close association with the worship of Shiva in Hinduism, as well as the festival of festival Holi in the form of a drink called ‘Chhutai’ throughout India. Due to the definition of cannabis in the NDPS Act, the sale and consumption of cannabis is permitted under law in India.
While the NDPS Act prohibits the sale and production of cannabis resin and flowers, the use of seeds and leaves is permitted. In addition, section 14 of the Act makes a “special provision” for cannabis, where the government may allow the cultivation of a plant of hemp “for industrial purposes only for obtaining fiber or seed or for horticultural purposes”.