In what’s a first for the country, the Indian government will allow cannabis experimentation as the narcotics department sanctioned a research and development project to examine substances in the plant. India’s drug law enforcement agency, Narcotics Control Bureau has authorized the R&D program on Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the two naturally found compounds in the cannabis plant.
The research program is undertaken by the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP) as it aims to explore the cultivation of low THC high CBD cannabis strains at their office in Lucknow and resource centre in Pantnagar, Uttarakhand. While CBD is used in gels, oils and has medicinal use, THC is responsible for the psychoactive effect.
The Vedas speak of cannabis as a sacred plant; but it was banned in India due to increasing drug abuse. Apart from prohibiting cultivation, sale and possession of cannabis, India, until now, decided not to tap into its potential medical benefits as well. And the sanction by the narcotic department only means that cannabis will be grown in a monitored way, nothing more beyond that as of now. Earlier this year, even the World Health Organisation (WHO) proposed recategorising cannabis in international law due to evidence supporting its medicinal values. A number of countries have also moved to legalise the sale of the drug for medical use.
Beyond medical use, industrial marijuana or hemp can also be refined for use in many commercial commodities like paper, textile, clothing, paint, biofuel, and animal feed. And now the trend is extending to beauty and wellness products as well. With this new legislation on R&D of cannabis plant, India will perhaps open up splendid opportunities to tap into the ready-to-boom cannabis economy worldwide.