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Legalization of Cannabis in India



Jual Days-D’Souza

Darren Fernandes

Jennifer Jacob

Rubina Razvi

Karunesh Singh

Varoon Aiyer

I. Question

II. Executive Summary

III. Cannabis: An Introduction

IV. Cannabis and India

V. Traditional Uses

VI. Spread of Cannabis

VII. Marijuana and Popular Culture

VIII. Arguments for and against legalization

IX. Medical Marijuana

X. Special Analysis: Cannabis v/c Tobacco v/s Alcohol

XI. Interview with a Neuro Surgeon

XII. Our Ethical Stand


Cannabis is illegal to possess, use, cultivate, transfer or trade in most first-world

countries.Although no country in the world has legalised its use; more than 10
countries in the world tolerate it.Netherlands being the foremost.

India now is being urged to do the same and atleast allow its use in the medical
feild.If legalised its use can be taxed.

Evaluate the ethical violations if any of legalising cannabis.

What do you think are the Netherlands reasons for legalising it?

In India with an already established drug market will this prove to be beneficial?

Is it better to provide entry level drugs in the market freely so as to have a better
control over people?

Analyse the case based on this

Marijuana- The Devil’s Harvest, The Assasin of Youth.

This was the portrayal of Pot for nearly a century. Long touted as the smoke of hell responsible
for violent and psychotic behaviour, it remainde illicit and demonised. Today, however, most
researchers believe cannabis to be a relatively benign drug. Medical research proclaiming the
usefulness of Pot in treating several illnesses has forced people to alter their perceptions.

Cannabis today is much more potent than it was 40 years ago. It has never been more valuable.
And, despite being illegal, it is greatly desired.

Law enforcement continues to cramp down on its use. Yet cannabis clubs flourish in some parts
of the world. Botanists work to perfect it even as the debate as too its legalization rages on.

The contradictions continue. As the world fights for and against ‘weed’, through this report we
try to present to you both sides of the story. Intoxicant or medical harbinger, we have tried to
argue both ways so that you can form an opinion of your own. Though the issue is not as
heatedly fought over in India as it is across the globe, we have also tried to incorporate an Indian
dimension in all our findings.

We have also tried to present angles that we found particularly interesting such as a comparison
of cannabis to tobacco and alcohol. To gauge the practical side of the issue instead of relying on
ready made facts, we also interviewed a member of the medical fraternity.

At the end, we have presented our own view on the issue. It was not an easy consensus that was
easy to reach and we have discussed and debated about it for several weeks.

We hope, that after reading this report, you will have all the facts necessary at your disposal to
form an enlightened opinion of your own.
‘Cannabis’ is a family of plants grown all over the worldand is the source of one of the most
popular mind altering drug. It is also the source of hemp, a fibrous product that has been used for
centuries for making clothes, ropes etc. Hemp is now recognised as a good substitute for oats in
the use as animal fodder

However, it is more notorious use as a drug that is smoked or eaten. The shredded buds of the
cannabis plant are known as marijuana.

Marijuana is called by street names such as pot, herb, weed, grass, boom, Mary Jane, gangster, or
chronic. There are more than 200 slang terms for marijuana. Sinsemilla, Hashish and hash oil are
stronger forms of marijuana. The terms Marijuana and Cannabis are interchangable.

All forms of cannabis are mind-altering. In other words, they change how the brain works. They
all contain THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the main active chemical in cannabis. They also
contain more than 400 other chemicals.

The effects of cannabis on the user depend on the strength or potency of the THC it contains.
THC potency of cannabis has increased since the 1970s but has been about the same since the
mid-1980s. Cannabis is usually smoked as a cigarette (called a joint or a nail) or in a pipe or a
bong. Recently, it has appeared in cigars called blunts.

THC in cannabis is strongly absorbed by fatty tissues in various organs.

Generally, traces (metabolites) of THC can be detected by standard urine testing methods several
days after a smoking session. However, in heavy chronic users, traces can sometimes be detected
for weeks after they have stopped using cannabis.

Findings so far show that regular use of cannabis or THC may play a role in some kinds of
cancer and in problems with the respiratory and immune systems. It is difficult to know for sure
whether regular cannabis use causes cancer. But it is known that cannabis contains some of the
same, and sometimes even more, of the cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke.
Studies show that someone who smokes five joints per day may be taking in as many cancer-
causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day.

People who smoke cannabis often develop the same kinds of breathing problems that cigarette
smokers have: coughing and wheezing. They tend to have more chest colds than non-users. They
are also at greater risk of getting lung infections like pneumonia.

Animal studies have found that THC can damage the cells and tissues in the body that help
protect people from disease. When the immune cells are weakened, you are more likely to get
On the other side, cannabis is now recognised as being a useful drug for reducing the effects of
many conditions and hass been show not to be chemically addictive.

Although the cannabis plant is now omnipresent, it is not native to more than one continent.

Cannabis is a plant native to Central Asia that has spread all over the world and is probably the
most widely used recreational and usually illegal drug in the world. Its cultural and cosmopolitan
distribution is no doubt due to a combination of cultural and natural factors.

Psychoactive plants in human culture, was most likely a key trade item from a very early date.
The anthropologist Weston La Barre was of the opinion that cannabis use goes as far back as the
Middle Stone Age period as part of a religio-shamanic complex. It seems most likely that the
cultivation of hemp may have originated in north-east Asia. It is the only fibre plant of any great
importance in the region and, as such, must have been eagerly sought out for its numerous
technological uses. That the stupefying effect of the hemp plant was commonly known from
extremely early times is also indicated linguistically.


Despite the numerous Chinese references to cannabis it has never played a comparable role in
Chinese social life to that it achieved in India.

In contrast to the history of hemp in China, cannabis (bhang, ganja) has been widely used in
India throughout its history and down to the present day. In the ancient text Artharvaveda,
cannabis is described as one of a number of herbs that 'release us from anxiety'. Various
psychoactive preparations containing cannabis were sacred to the gods, particularly Shiva and
Indra. One of Shiva's epithets was 'Lord of Bhang'. Cannabis has been widely used in the Tantric
tradition as an aphrodisiac incorporated into ceremonial practices. Cannabis seems to have been
introduced into south-east Asia around the sixteenth century. Since almost all the common terms
for the plant have their etymological root in the Sanskrit word ganja (in Laos hemp is kan xa, in
Vietnam can xa, in Thailand kancha or kanhcha, and in Cambodia kanhcha), it is clear that it was
under Indian influence that cannabis spread into the region.

The method of use of the plant for its psychoactive effects in south-east Asia has been in for
form of 'grass', i.e. the leaves; flowering tops and stalks were smoked, usually with tobacco.

In Cambodia the plant is sometimes boiled and some of the resulting liquid is sprinkled on
tobacco and then it is smoked.

At least until the current 'drug problem' (introduced and caused by Western foreigners) it was
common-place in Thailand to employ cannabis for its analgesic and other medical uses.
An infusion of the tops was given in small quantities (to avoid intoxication) at meal times to
women who had just given birth. Similar practices are reported from Cambodia (although there
the hemp is an ingredient in an alcoholic decoction). For both their psychoactive effects and
flavour, hemp leaves are popular in the local cuisines of the region, being variously used in
soups, curries, fish fritters and other dishes.

Hemp also had a number of uses in early medicine, being used to treat gout, worms, tumours and
inflammation. Its psychoactive properties were not forgotten. Bulleyn warns that it can bring
madness and it was a seventeenth-century belief that apothecaries and others that traded in
cannabis often became epileptics, an effect attributed to the seeds. William Salmon, writing in
1693, says that cannabis seeds, leaves, juice, essence and decoctions were readily available in
druggists' shops at the time, thus showing that cannabis was a widely used medicine.

Hemp moved westward out of its Central Asian home at a very early date. Evidence for its use in
Eastern Europe as a psychoactive substance can be traced to the later part of the third millennium

Cannabis was also widely used in the ancient Near East. It was used by the Assyrians as a
fumigation to relieve sorrow and grief, which is surely an indication of psychoactive use. Hemp
was widely used in Ancient Egypt as a rope fibre.

Its use among the Islamic mystical order of Sufis and Dervishes has been equally controversial.
Many contemporary Sufis have wanted to distance themselves from what has now become a
disreputable substance to many governments. However, Cannabis was, and still is, widely used
for recreational purposes in Muslim countries and this was certainly the case in Arabic Egypt.
The diffusion of the plant into sub-Saharan Africa seems to have been partly due to migrant
communities of Muslims from the north and to Arab merchants trading along the east African
coast. Although it seems difficult to believe cannabis was not, at least according to some experts,
present in West Africa before the Second World War.

Potted histories of cannabis often imply that hemp's intoxicating properties were virtually
unknown in Europe until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when travellers to Egypt and
other parts of the East 'discovered the drug'.

The first cultivation of hemp in the Americas seems to have been in Nova Scotia in 1606 and it
subsequently became widely grown across North America for its use as a fibre. It seems,
however, that there was no awareness of its psychoactive properties until the middle of the
nineteenth century.


It was in the early 1900s that the first books and articles on the subject appeared. It was not just
the media but also the medical profession that were becoming increasingly aware of cannabis.
Although doctors used it in treating many disorders (ranging from epilepsy and hysteria to
alcoholism and asthma) the demonisation of drugs that began with opium was soon to spread to
other psychoactive substances, including cannabis. As the anti-opium movement was intertwined
with bigotry against the Chinese so with marijuana it was to be the turn of the Mexicans and then
the Blacks.

In 1915 California became the first state to make it illegal to possess cannabis. By the 1920s
marijuana (called muggles or moota and later mezz, sassfras or tea; marijuana cigarettes or joints
were known, as they still sometimes are, as reefers) had become a major 'underground drug'.

Marijuana was the first psychoactive substance (apart from alcohol) that became a common
subject in modern popular music, with jazz classics from the 1930s such as Louis Armstrong's
Muggles and Cab Calloway's That Funny Reefer Man topping the bill of marijuana-inspired fare.
In opposition to the positive portrayal of cannabis in the jazz scene were wildly sensational
accounts – supposedly based on fact – of the intimate connection of the drug with violence and
sexual promiscuity.

Finally, in 1937, through the considerable persuasive powers of Harry J. Anslinger, the first
commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the Marihuana (Marijuana) Tax Act became
federal law and in 1956 the drug was incorporated into the more comprehensive Narcotics Act.

Although the most well-known anti-marijuana film, Reefer Madness, was designed to shock
young people with its vivid portrayal of the drug menace, it seems to have had little effect.
Today it is something of a cult movie (mainly among cannabis smokers) since its plot of moral
and social decline is so utterly unconvincing and ludicrous.

A less well-known film about hemp was made by the US Department of Agriculture and was
entitled Hemp for Victory (1942). It was made as a propaganda film to encourage the growing of
the plant for its fibre by American farmers during the Second World War as, due to the conflict,
sufficient overseas supplies were unavailable.

Today, a number of medical uses for cannabis have made the whole debate about its legalisation
a major issue.


Why Cannabis Should Be Banned
Cannabis is a psychoactive drug. The possession, use or sale of psychoactive cannabis is banned
in most parts of the world. This is mainly because of its ill-effects on the health. The following
are major health concerns that have emerged through research that has been conducted by
scientists globally:

1. Immunity:

Cannabis has a possible suppressant effect of on cell-mediated immunity. If suppression occurs,

it may only be transient, in the sense that recovery may occur. Further, the degree may not be
clinically significant as the reserve capacity of the body to respond to immune challenge may not
be exceeded. We simply do not know how much impairment is necessary to make someone
vulnerable. Clinical experience has not yet indicated an increased vulnerability of cannabis users,
but further observations of the possible contribution of marijuana use to the susceptibility to
develop AIDS must be awaited.

2. Chromosomal Damage:

Adverse effects on chromosomes of somatic cells have been especially controversial. But
research on this issue shoes mixed findings. Studies have flaws, and one simply cannot conclude
that the issue is settled. For that matter, it has not yet been settled for a variety of drugs,
including aspirin, in which an increased number of chromosomal abnormalities have been
described. One must conclude for the time being that, even if a small increase in chromosomal
abnormalities is produced by cannabis, the clinical significance is doubtful.

3. Pregnancy and Foetal Development:

The belated recognition of the harmful effects on the fetus of smoking tobacco and drinking
alcoholic beverages indicates that some caution with cannabis is wise.

4. Psychopathology:

Cannabis may produce directly an acute panic reaction, a toxic delirium, an acute paranoid state,
or acute mania. Very high doses of cannabis may evoke a toxic delirium, manifested by marked
memory impairment, confusion, and disorientation.

A variety of psychotic reactions have been ascribed to cannabis use. Many are difficult to fit into
the usual diagnostic classifications. Two cases of manic reaction were reported in children who
were repeatedly exposed to cannabis by elders. Both required treatment with antipsychotic drugs
but ultimately showed a full recovery.

Hypomania, with persecutory delusions, auditory hallucinations, withdrawal, and thought

disorder, was observed in four Jamaican subjects who had increased their use of marijuana.
It would seem reasonable to assume that cannabis might unmask latent psychiatric disorders and
that this action probably accounts for the great variety of responses that have been described
following its use. On the other hand, evidence for a specific type of psychosis associated with its
use is still elusive.

5. Amotivation:

One cannot help being impressed by the fact that many promising youngsters change their goals
in life drastically after entering the illicit drug culture, usually by way of cannabis. While it is
clearly impossible to be certain that these changes were caused by the drug (one might equally
argue that the use of drug followed the decision to change life style). The consequences are often
sad. With cannabis as with most other pleasures, moderation is the key word. Moderate use of
the drug does not seem to be associated with this outcome, but when drug use becomes a
preoccupation, trouble may be in the offing.

6. Brain damage:

The startling report of cerebral atrophy in ten young men who were chronic users of cannabis
aroused a great deal of controversy. It is possible that with longer exposure, heavy users of
cannabis might show a similar pattern.

7. Tolerance and Dependence:

Tolerance to cannabis has long been suspected to occur during its continued use. Narrative
accounts indicate that chronic users of the drug either show very little effect from moderate
doses or require very large doses to produce characteristic intoxication. Evidence from both
animals and man indicates that physical dependence can be induced by abuse of THC. All
monkeys given automatic injection doses of THC of 0.1 to 0.4 mg/kg showed abstinence signs
when withdrawn.

8. Lung Damage:

Virtually all users of cannabis in North America take the drug by smoking. As inhaling any
foreign material into the lung amy have adverse consequences, as is well proven in the case of
tobacco, this mode of administration of cannabis might also be suspect. Smoking is most
efficient method for administering the drug, due to the enormously high lipid solubility of THC.

Heavy use of hashish by soldiers produced a number of bronchopulmonary consequences,

including chronic bronchitis, chronic cough.

9. Contamination of Cannabis
The most definite health hazard was contamination of cannabis, largely of Mexican origin, by the
herbicide paraquat. Inhalation of toxic amounts of this material could lead to severe lung
damage, and some instances of acute toxicity have occurred. Paradoxically, this hazard stemmed
from efforts to save cannabis users from less well-documented hazards to their health.

10. Accumulation in the Body

The major if not sole active component of cannabis, THC, is highly lipid soluble. As the human
body has a high lipid content, which includes not only body fat, but also brain and most cell
membranes, lipid-soluble drugs tend to leave the blood rapidly to be distributed to fatty tissues. It
is characteristic of such drugs that the action of a single dose is terminated not by the elimination
of the drug through metabolic processes, but by redistribution to sites in the body where it cannot

We can see that though most of the studies done in this regard show quite contradictory results,
its harmful effects cannot be denied. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA),
long-term use of the drug can increase the risk of damaging the lungs and reproductive system.
There are several areas where research is still being conducted and so the effects are as yet

Even if we take a middle path and say that the effects are reversible and quite harmless and only
occur through long term regular usage, then there is the ethical question—whether a drug should
be decriminalised because it is relatively harmless.

Why Cannabis Should Be Legalized

1. Liberty: People Deserve Freedom to use Marijuana

Individuals deserve the right to decide whether or not they should use marijuana. The
government should not tell individuals what to do as long as they do not harm others.

The first and most basic reason that marijuana should be legal is that there is no good reason for
it not to be legal. Some people ask 'why should marijuana be legalized?" but we should ask
"Why should marijuana be illegal?" From a philosophical point of view, individuals deserve the
right to make choices for themselves. The government only has a right to limit those choices if
the individual's actions endanger someone else. This does not apply to marijuana, since the
individual who chooses to use marijuana does so according to his or her own free will. The
government also may have a right to limit individual actions if the actions pose a significant
threat to the individual. But this argument does not logically apply to marijuana because
marijuana is far less dangerous than some drugs which are legal, such as alcohol and tobacco.

2. Cost: Keeping marijuana illegal is expensive

The second important reason that marijuana should be legal is that it would save our government
lots of money.

In the United States, for example, all levels of government (federal, state, and local authorities)
participate in the "War on Drugs." Billions of dollars every year to chase peaceful people who
like to get high. These people get locked up in prison and the taxpayers have to foot the bill. We
have to pay for food, housing, health care, attorney fees, court costs, and other expenses to lock
these people up. This is extremely expensive. In addition, if marijuana were legal, the
government would be able to collect taxes on it, and would have a lot more money to pay for
effective drug education programs and other important causes.

We would have more money to spend on important problems if marijuana were legal.

3. Failure: Prohibition doesn't help.

The third major reason that marijuana should be legal is because prohibition does not help the
country in any way, and causes a lot of problems.There is no good evidence that prohibition
decreases drug use, and there are several theories that suggest prohibition might actually increase
drug use (i.e. the "forbidden fruit" effect, and easier accessibility for youth).
One unintended effect of marijuana prohibition is that marijuana is very popular in schools and
colleges. Why? Because it is available. You don't have to be 21 to buy marijuana. Dealers
usually don't care how old you are as long as you have money.

It is actually easier for many high school students to obtain marijuana than it is for them to obtain
alcohol, because alcohol is legal and therefore regulated to keep it away from kids. If our goal is
to reduce drug consumption, then we should focus on open and honest programs to educate
youth, regulation to keep drugs away from kids, and treatment programs for people with drug
problems. But the current prohibition scheme does not allow such reasonable approaches to
marijuana; instead we are stuck with 'DARE' police officers spreading lies about drugs in
schools, and policies that result in jail time rather than treatment for people with drug problems.
We tried prohibition with alcohol, and that failed miserably. We should be able to learn our
lesson and stop repeating the same mistake.

4. Hemp: The hemp plant is a valuable natural resource. Legalizing marijuana would eliminate
the confusion surrounding hemp and allow us to take advantage of hemp's agricultural and
industrial uses.

5. Religious Use: Some religions instruct their followers to use marijuana. Just like Christianity
and Judaism instruct their followers to drink wine on certain occaisions, some Hindus,
Buddhists, Rastafarians, and members of other religions use marijuana as part of their spiritual
and religious ceremonies. These people deserve the freedom to practice their religion as they see
fit. The Constitution says that the government cannot 'prohibit the free exercise of religion’, and
so marijuana should be legal.

6. Medicinal use:

Marijuana can be used as medicine because it helps to stimulate apetite and relieve nausea in
cancer and AIDS patients.An in depth explanation is given later.

“Nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety... all can be mitigated by marijuana....For patients, such
as those with AIDS or undergoing chemotherapy, who suffer simultaneously from severe pain,
nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad spectrum relief not found in any
other single medication.”

Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base, 1999

There are a number of positive patient reports on medical conditions such as pruritus, hiccup,
ADS (attention deficit syndrome), high blood pressure, tinnitus, chronic fatigue syndrome,
restless leg syndrome, and others. Several hundreds possible indications for cannabis and THC
have been described by different authors. For example, 2.5 to 5 mgs THC were effective in three
patients with pruritus due to liver diseases.

Another example is the successful treatment of a chronic hiccup that developed after a surgery.
No medication was effective, but smoking of a cannabis cigarette completely abolished the

Cannabis products often show very good effects in diseases with multiple symptoms that
encompassed within the spectrum of THC effects, for example, in painful conditions that have an
inflammatory origin (e.g., arthritis), or are accompanied by increased muscle tone (e.g.,
menstrual cramps, spinal cord injury), or in diseases with nausea and anorexia accompanied by
pain, anxiety and depression, respectively (e.g. AIDS, cancer, hepatitis C).

Cannbis has been found beneficial in treating several disorders including:

 Nausea and Vomiting

THC was inferior to high-dose metoclopramide in one study. There are no comparisons of THC
to the modern serotonin antagonists. Some recent investigations have shown that THC in low
doses improves the efficacy of other antiemetic drugs if given together.

 Anorexia and Cachexia

An appetite enhancing effect of THC is observed with daily divided doses totalling 5 mg. When
required, the daily dose may be increased to 20 mg. In a long-term study of 94 AIDS patients,
the appetite-stimulating effect of THC continued for months, confirming the appetite
enhancement noted in a shorter 6 week study. THC doubled appetite on a visual analogue scale
in comparison to placebo. Patients tended to retain a stable body weight over the course of seven
months. A positive influence on body weight was also reported in 15 patients with Alzheimer's
disease who were previously refusing food.
 Spasticity
In many clinical trials of THC, nabilone and cannabis, a beneficial effect on spasticity caused by
multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury has been observed. Among other positively influenced
symptoms were pain, paraesthesia, tremor and ataxia. In some studies improved bladder control
was observed. There is also some anecdotal evidence of a benefit of cannabis in spasticity due to
lesions of the brain.

 Movement Disorders
The use in Tourette's syndrome is currently being investigated in clinical studies. Many patients
achieve a modest improvement; however some show a considerable response or even complete
symptom control. In some MS patients, benefits on ataxia and reduction of tremor have been
observed following the administration of THC. Despite occasional positive reports, no objective
success has been found in Parkinsons or Huntington disease. However, cannabis products may
prove useful in treating Parkinson disease without worsening the primary symptoms.

 Pain
Large clinical studies have proven analgesic properties of cannabis products. Among possible
indications are neuropathic pain due to multiple sclerosis, damage of the brachial plexus and
HIV infection, pain in rheumatoid arthritis, cancer pain, headache, menstrual pain, chronic bowel
inflammation and neuralgias.

 Glaucoma
In 1971, during a systematic investigation of its effects in healthy cannabis users, it was observed
that cannabis reduces intraocular pressure. In the following 12 years a number of studies in
healthy individuals and glaucoma patients with cannabis and several natural and synthetic
cannabinoids were conducted. Cannabis decreases intraocular pressure by an average 25-30%,
occasionally up to 50%. Some non-psychotropic cannabinoids, and to a lesser extent, some non-
cannabinoid constituents of the hemp plant also decrease intraocular pressure.

 Epilepsy
The use in epilepsy is among its historically oldest indications of cannabis. Animal experiments
provide evidence of the antiepileptic effects of some cannabinoids. The anticonvulsant activities
of phenytoin and diazepam have been potentiated by THC. According to a few case reports from
the 20th century, some epileptic patients continue to utililize cannabis to control an otherwise
unmanageable seizure disorder. Cannabis use may occasionally precipitate convulsions.

 Asthma
The effects of a cannabis cigarette (2% THC) or oral THC (15 mg), respectively, approximately
correspond to those obtained with therapeutic doses of common bronchodilator drugs
(salbutamol, isoprenaline). Since inhalation of cannabis products may irritate the mucous
membranes, oral administration or another alternative delivery system would be preferable. Very
few patients developed bronchoconstriction after inhalation of THC.

 Psychiatric Symptoms
They include depression, sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, and dysthymia
Quite possibly cannabis products may be either beneficial or harmful, depending on the
particular case. The attending physician and the patient should be open to a critical examination
of the topic, and frankness to both possibilities.

 Autoimmune Diseases and Inflammation

In a number of painful syndromes secondary to inflammatory processes (e.g. ulcerative colitis,
arthritis), cannabis products may act not only as analgesics but also demonstrate anti-
inflammatory potential. For example, some patients employing cannabis report a decrease in
their need for steroidal and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
SPECIAL ANALYSIS: Cannabis v/s Alcohol v/s Tobacco


Prohibitionists scare people with comparisons between marijuana and tobacco smoke. Tobacco
smoke is bad; therefore all smoke is bad the reasoning goes.

Tobacco has dramatic negative consequences for those who smoke it. In addition to its high
addiction potential, tobacco is causally associated with over 400,000 deaths yearly in the United
States alone, and has a significant negative effect on health in general. More specifically, over
140,000 lung-related deaths in 2008 were attributed to tobacco smoke. Comparable
consequences would naturally be expected from cannabis smoking since the burning of plant
material in the form of cigarettes generates a large variety of compounds that possess numerous
biological activities.

While cannabis smoke has been implicated in respiratory dysfunction, including the conversion
of respiratory cells to what appears to be a pre-cancerous state, it has not been causally linked
with tobacco related cancers such as lung, colon or rectal cancers.

Recent studies carried out on epidemiological analysis of marijuana smoking and cancer show
that a connection between marijuana smoking and lung or colorectal cancer was not observed.
These conclusions are reinforced by the recent work of Tashkin and coworkers who were unable
to demonstrate a cannabis smoke and lung cancer link, despite clearly demonstrating cannabis
smoke-induced cellular damage.

Tobacco contains Ionizing Radiation whereas marijuana plants do not absorb radioactive
There is one very important difference between marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke. Tobacco
smoke contains ionizing radiation and cannabis smoke does not. The tobacco plant's roots and
the sticky leaf surface absorb radioactive polonium-210 and lead-210 isotopes which are inhaled
with tobacco smoke. Pack and a half a day smokers are exposed to the equivalent of over 300
hundred chest x-rays every year from this ionizing radiation.

Radioactivity in tobacco may explain why smokers of low-tar and low-nicotine cigarettes have
the same lung cancer rate as smokers of regular cigarettes. 50% of tobacco radiation is
discharged into the air which might explain why non-smokers married to heavy smokers may
have an increased risk of lung cancer. "Americans are exposed to far more radiation from
tobacco smoke than from any other source," says Dr R T Ravenholt, former director of World
health Surveys at the Center for Disease Control.
If marijuana caused lung cancer, prohibitionists would be giving body counts on the six o'clock
news instead of peddling scare stories, say some researchers. Back in 1965-75 many studies
realated to effects of cannabis were conducted in the US and UK and, report after report gave
cannabis a clean bill of health. Also, many studies provided preliminary evidence that cannabis
compounds are effective in treating a wide range of diseases including cancer tumor suppression.

Anti-Cancer Compounds in Cannabis

Another reason to demand proof before accepting any assumptions about marijuana causing
cancer is the fact that cannabis contains several very active anti-cancer compounds.

In 1976, Louis S. Harris, of the Medical College of Virginia, reported that delta-9 THC increased
cancer survival time by 36% without the weight loss caused by most standard anti-tumor agents.
Delta-8 THC and cannabinol were also found to be quite active in tumor suppression. No other
chemotherapy agent differentiates between tumor and normal cells the way cannabis compounds
do. Like all other studies showing medical potential for marijuana, Harris's funding was
immediately discontinued.

Cannabis smoke is not as carcinogenic as tobacco smoke.

In a review article published in Harm Reduction Journal, Dr. Melamede from the University of
Colorado, Colorado Springs, USA, writes that although cannabis smoke and tobacco smoke are
chemically very similar, evidence suggests that their effects are very different and that cannabis
smoke is less carcinogenic than tobacco smoke.

The pharmacological effects of tobacco and cannabis smoke differ in many ways, mainly
because tobacco smoke contains nicotine while cannabis smoke contains tetrahydrocannabinol
(THC). The cancer-promoting effects of smoke are increased by nicotine, while they are reduced
by THC.

Tobacco and cannabis smoke contain the same carcinogenic compounds - and depending on
which part of the plant is smoked, cannabis smoke can contain more of them - but, whereas
nicotine activates these carcinogenic compounds, THC has been shown to inhibit them in mice
cells. THC is very likely to have protective effects against the carcinogens present in smoke in
humans too, but cannabis smoke remains nonetheless carcinogenic.

While nicotine and THC can act on related cellular pathways, they bind to different receptors to
activate these pathways. The cells of lungs and the respiratory passages are lined with nicotine
receptors, but do not appear to carry THC receptors. This explains why cannabis smoking has
not been associated with lung cancer, a main cause of death from cigarette smoking.

Cannabis is a class C drug in the UK and the USA. It has been linked to an increased risk of
psychosis and schizophrenia, in a small group of vulnerable individuals. But there is increasing
evidence that the drug has significant medicinal uses and can greatly improve the lives of
patients suffering from a wide range of conditions, including multiple sclerosis, AIDS,
Alzheimer's disease and insomnia. In spite of this, governments have been reluctant to legalize
cannabis for medical use, on the grounds that the risks associated with the drug still outweigh its

Furthermore, compounds found in cannabis have been shown to kill numerous cancer types
including: lung cancer, breast and prostate, leukemia and lymphoma, glioma, skin cancer, and
pheochromocytoma. The effects of cannabinoids are complex and sometimes contradicting, often
exhibiting biphasic responses. For example, in contrast to the tumor killing properties, low doses
of THC may stimulate the growth of lung cancer cells in vitro.

It should be noted that with the development of vaporizers, that use the respiratory route for the
delivery of carcinogen-free cannabis vapors, the carcinogenic potential of smoked cannabis has
been largely eliminated.

Cannabis Receptors
The discovery of "cannabis receptors" in the human brain and other parts of the body and
naturally occurring THC compounds in the body has ended most scientific speculation that the
active ingredients in marijuana cause any kind of health damage. Previous assumptions about
brain damage and other health injuries have been rejected because it is now known that cannabis
is metabolized without any toxicity whatsoever.


According to the University of Oxford, Department of Pharmacology: Long-term
marijuana use is far less damaging than long-term alcohol use

Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United
States and is associated with multiple adverse health consequences, including liver cirrhosis,
various cancers, unintentional injuries, and violence.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported 20,687 “alcohol-induced deaths” (excluding
accidents and homicides). There have been no reports of “marijuana-induced deaths.” (In
reality, there may be 2-5 deaths each year attributed to marijuana). There is little evidence that
long-term cannabis use causes permanent cognitive impairment, nor is there any clear cause and
effect relationship to explain the psychosocial associations.

There are some physical health risks, particularly the possibility of damage to the airways in
cannabis smokers. Overall, by comparison with other drugs used mainly for ‘recreational’
purposes, cannabis could be rated to be a relatively safe drug.

There has never been a documented case of lung cancer in a marijuana-only smoker, and recent
studies find that marijuana use is not associated with any type of cancer. The same cannot be said
for alcohol, which has been found to contribute to a variety of long-term negative health effects,
including cancers and cirrhosis of the liver.

Marijuana is far less toxic and less addictive than alcohol.

Alcohol is one of the most toxic drugs, and using just 10 times what one would use to get the
desired effect can lead to death. Marijuana is one of – if not the – least toxic drugs, requiring
thousands of times the dose one would use to get the desired effect to lead to death. This
“thousands of times” is actually theoretical, since there has never been a recorded case of
marijuana overdose.

Alcohol use contributes to the likelihood of domestic violence and sexual assault and marijuana
use does not. Of the psychoactive substances examined, among individuals who were chronic
partner abusers, the use of alcohol and cocaine was associated with significant increases in the
daily likelihood of male-to-female physical aggression; cannabis and opiates were not
significantly associated with an increased likelihood of male partner violence.

Alcohol use is prevalent in cases of sexual assault and date rape on college campuses, whereas
marijuana use is not considered a contributing factor in cases of sexual assault and date rape.
Alcohol use contributes to reckless behavior and serious injuries, and it is highly associated with
emergency room visits, whereas marijuana use does not contribute to such behavior and injuries,
and is seldomly associated with emergency room visits.
Alcohol contributes to about 599,000 unintentional student injuries each year. No such statistics
exist when it comes to student marijuana use.

The following are the findings of a University of Michigan Health System report "Alcohol:
Effects on Health"

Alcohol contributes to numerous health problems including gastritis, pancreatitis, ulcers, liver
cancer, cirrhosis, and other liver diseases. Alcohol abuse increases the risk of developing acute
respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
Alcohol use contributes to aggressive behaviour and acts of violence, whereas marijuana use
reduces the likelihood of violent behavior.
Alcohol is clearly the drug with the most evidence to support a direct intoxication-violence
Alcohol use is highly associated with violent crime, whereas marijuana use is not.
About 3 million violent crimes occur each year in which victims perceive the offender to have
been drinking at the time of the offense.
Two-thirds of victims who suffered violence by an intimate (a current or former spouse,
boyfriend, or girlfriend) reported that alcohol had been a factor.
Among spouse victims, 3 out of 4 incidents were reported to have involved an offender who had
been drinking.

Tobacco Alcohol Cannabis

Less toxic and less

Highly toxic and addictive Toxic and addictive

Does not contribute to the

Ontributes to the likelihood
___ likelihood of domestic
of domestic violence

___ Contributes to sexual Does not contribute to

assault sexual assault

Causes far less health

Causes a wide variety of Causes a wide variety of
problems as compared to
health problems health problems
tobacco and alcohol
Long term use is
Long term use is highly Long term use is highly
comparatively far less
damaging damaging

Does not contain ionizing

Contains ionizing radiation _____

Plants absorb radioactive Plants do not absorb

elements radioactive elements

Does not contain anti- Does not contain anti- Contains anti-cancer
cancer compounds cancer compounds compounds

Smoke is more
_____ Smoke is less carcinogenic

Causes cancer Causes cancer Kill cancer cells

Minimizes some
_____ _____
carcinogenic pathways

Second major cause of

_____ ______
death in the world

To better understand the medical aspect of the issue, we conducted an interview with Dr. Nirmal
Surya who is a neuro physician working at Bombay Hospital.
(Note: The following is a reproduction of the interview in full. No changes have been made to
the content of any answer. Only grammar and spelling have been corrected.)

1) Should cannabis be legalized in India in your opinion? Please justify your stand.

No it must not be introduced in India because we have sufficient substitutes available in the
market to cure the disorders which are dealt with cannabis. As we know that excessive uses of
cannabis has far more side effects like increase in blood pressure, lung cancer, mental disorders.
If we are introducing that drug for specific disorder then it must be strictly controlled and
provided only on selected doctors’ prescription.

2) How will the introduction of cannabis affect treatment with regards to the price factor?

No there will not be any variation in the price factor as it is used as a compound in the
preparation of drug. Introduction of cannabis in the drug section will not bring a large change in
the cost of treatment but might bring a slight change.

3) Are the existing substitutes (In India) adequate in curing diseases/ailments that cannabis
can? How effective are they when compared to cannabis?

For nerves-neuropathic pain in which vapourization is done for pain relief. Substitutes like
ATROPIN (drug) is available with no side affects as compared to cannabis which can cause
addiction after a prolong usage. In relation to patients who suffer from decreased appetite in food
due to chemotherapy & cancer. Subsitutes like various Multi Vitamins are available in the
market. There are a variety of cheaper substitutes available in market like Analegesia, Ibrophyn.

4) Would the medical fraternity be receptive to legalizing cannabis in India?

Yes the medical faculty is in favour of introducing cannabis but on conditions like strict
regulation, only on selected doctors prescription and not offered as over the counter drugs.
Various compounds and molecules of cannabis can be used in the preparation of any drugs.
5) Should its access be strictly monitored by the regulating body or allowed as an 'over-the-
counter' drug? Should production process be made privatized?

Over the counter drugs like Revital, Crocin are not under category of sensitive drugs. Cannabis
or any drugs which has any cannabis compound in it cannot be sold as OTC drugs. It is because
there was time when Piramal Healthcare had introduced one cough syrup named Sensidil which
use to have codeine( a molecule of THC) was sold as OTC drug resulted into addiction by
Our Ethical Stand

This is the consensus we managed to reach after several rounds of discussions.

It is important to state that there have been hundreds of studies showing that smoking cannabis is
potentially harmful to the brain and body and the same number of studies almost contradicting
what these have stated.
It is clear from the above statement that clear research needs to be undertaken to ensure that facts
are clarified before any major step is taken.

Total legalisation of cannabis is not necessary nor is it desirable in this country.

The use of cannabis for recreational purposes, though allowed in several countries is not
something that should be legalized in India. The concept of Pot Houses does not fall in line with
Indian social values.

However, it cannot be denied that cannabis has medical uses. It is rather unjust that this potential
be allowed to go to waste merely because it is an intoxicant. Adequate research must be
conducted to realise how to best use it for medical purposes.
We must bear in mind that the THC content can be regulated and the intoxicating effect can be
totally eliminated. If drugs such as nicotine can be sold in the market for profit with no medical
beneft whatsoevr, then surely regulated cannabis used for medical reasons can be justified.

Some suggestions in this regard are as follows:

 The Central Government can conduct research in this field to ascertain how it can best be
used in treatments
 Any medicine so produced will not be distributed throughout the country and especially
never be made available to pharmacists. The drugs can be kept with a few well reputed
hospitals whose number cannot be more than 6 (Zonal Division)
 Dosage amount and accessibility (to these few hospitals) to be determined by
 Storage and use should follow the current double-lock system in hospitals for drugs and
every gram used should be accounted for.
 Every patient that needs marijuana dosage must directed to one of the above mentioned
core hospitals

The government is capable of maintaining such a system; we have already implemented it for
TamiFlu tablets during the H1N1 crisis.

Extract from ‘The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances’ by Richard Rudgley Little, Brown
and Company (1998)

Documents / Articles:

World Drug Report 2006. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Cannabis stats are from Chapter 6.1. Consumption: Annual prevalence of drug abuse (153 KB).
"Sources: Annual Reports Questionnaires, Government Reports, US Department of State,
European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Abuse (EMCDDA)."

EMCDDA:National report 2007: Netherlands

"Dutch cannabis policy challenged". BBC News. 9 January 2006.

EMCDDA Annual Report 2007, ch 3 page 43


EMCDDA: Mortality due to drug-related deaths in European countries

Trimbos Institute: Cannabis use stable, but treatment demand rising; National Drug Monitor
Annual Report 2006 (19-06-2007)

"Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding". National Commission on Marihuana and Drug

Abuse (reproduced in: The Schaffer Library of Drug Policy). March, 1972. Retrieved 2007-04-20.

"National Drug Threat Assessment 2006". National Drug Intelligence Center. February 2005. Retrieved 2007-04-02.

Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base

eref=rss_topstories Retrieved 2008-07-09. Retrieved 2008-07-09.