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LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA

IN INDIA

By: Siddharth Garg, Raunak Rai Maini, Pragya Tandon, Daiwik Aggarwal

ABSTRACT
This project looks to analyse the complexity of the situation regarding marijuana,
taking into account different aspects such as historical references and cultural
practices involving the use of marijuana. It also sheds light on the medicinal
benefits and disadvantages. It further looks at the past experience with the
legalization in other areas, presents the arguments to be made for its legalization
from a public policy perspective, and finally considers the possible implications
of the implementation of such a policy in the Indian context.

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CONTENTS

1. Historical Justification…………………………………………….3
2. Medicinal Benefits…………………...……………………………8
3. Disadvantages of Marijuana…………………………...……...…14
4. Experience with Legalization of Marijuana………….………….19
5. Marijuana and Racial Discrimination……………………………21
6. Distinction between Marijuana Legalization and
Decriminalization………………………………………………..22
7. The Myths About Marijuana Legalization in India……………...23
8. Arguments for Legalization of Marijuana………………………..24
9. Implications of Marijuana Legalization in India…………………28
10. Policy Recommendations………………………………………..29
11. Conclusion……………………………………………………….30
12. Appendix………………..…..…………………………………...31
a. Mr Shiv Kumar’s interview……………………………...32
b. Ms Veigas and Ms Bhargava’s interview………………..33
c. Ms Sita Chatterjee’s interview…………………………..35
d. Mr R.K. Dhingra’s interview……………………...……..36
13. References………....................……..……...…..….…….............37

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HISTORICAL JUSTIFICATION

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by
the rulers as useful.”
- Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Religion is undoubtedly a tool in the political scenario
and the perception it holds in a persons’ mind is
bound to be influenced by his/her experiences. Even
though the Indian jurisprudence distances itself from
any particular religion, the political parties in power
have been known to disseminate their ideology by
ways of legislation or actions.
Another power held by religion is that of igniting
mass movements (mostly for political gains),
participants of whose are callously ready to justify
their actions in the name of their religion or
sometimes culture, even if they override law. The
babri masjid demolition, anti- Sikh riots, Gujarat
communal riots and the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri
pundit are scathing events which verify the above-
mentioned paragraph.
Proposed policies can be justified in various ways. The reference to the horrifying
events was added just to depict the impact of religion in our society and this will
research project will mainly talk about the links which marijuana shares with this
element (religion), underlying its usage in the past and the significance it gained
due to its bizarre properties.

RELIGIOUS MENTIONS
1) The atharva Veda talks about the medicinal properties of marijuana and
suggests its use for relieving anxiety.

2) Lord Shiva is closely associated with the use of marijuana and there are two
popular theories which establish this link. The first theory relates with
marijuana being offered to Shiva after he drank the poison which was obtained

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as a result of the Samudra manthan. Bhang essentially helped him to feel
relaxed and lowered his body heat.

The second theory talks about a fight which Shiva had with his family and this
let him to wander off in a field where he slept under a cannabis plant. In order
to relieve his hunger, he consumed that plant and felt intense relaxation.

3) Another theory
argues that
smoking weed
helped sadhus
stationed in the
Himalayas to
bear the
piercing winds
and reduce
their body metabolism, thus warding off hypothermia.

4) Researcher also believed that the use of drugs in Hinduism emerged in the
Shaivism period as opposed to the Vaishnava period. This assumption was
also defeated when relevance was placed upon the rituals in the jagannath
temple of puri where lord Balarama’s worship also involved the use of bhang.

5) The Indian hemp drugs commission instituted by the British in the late 1890’s
to examine the overdose of marijuana in India and suggest ways to tackle the
menace also concluded that suppressing the use of herbal cannabis (bhang)
would be totally unjustifiable as its use was very ancient, it had
some religious sanction among Hindus, and was harmless in moderation.

HOLI
It is one of the
most prominent
Hindu festivals
which usually
falls in march. It
is commonly
referred to as
the festival of
colours but a
closer look towards the

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practices associate with the festival bring to light certain socially accepted
practices which seem to gain fervour during Holi but are surely looked down upon
if done otherwise. While India remains a signatory to the 1961 UN Convention
on Narcotic Drugs which essentially bans cannabis, the substance has always
been part of the country's cultural heritage. Certain Hindu texts even deem
cannabis plant to be a sacred one. This clearly shows that marijuana has acquired
cultural significance, at least in the northern parts of the country. Holi
celebrations are popularized even in Bollywood as it is associated with the
consumption of bhang, which is a cannabis-infused milkshake and is openly sold
by government authorized shops. In this case the use of marijuana is totally
recreational and doesn’t include any medicinal/ spiritual benefits.

HOLLA MOHALLA, BAISAKHI AND MAGHI MELA


These festivals are closely associated with the Sikh
community all over the world and certain sects of the
Nihang Sikhs also referred to as ‘Guru Ki Laadli Fauj’
consider these days auspicious for the consumption of
‘Panj Patte’. Bhang is referred to as ‘sukha’ or ‘shaheedi
degh’ and certain sects consider it an integral part of their
sikhi. Even though the intent of guru gobind ji while
advising the use of bhang was much different than what is
being interpreted now, use of bhang in the community has remained a debatable
issue amongst the community. The first use of bhang can be traced thousands of
years ago when guru gobind Singh ji advised the Khalsa fauj to use bhang as a
wartime tonic or pain reliever. A folktale of bravery is also attached to the
consumption of bhang wherein a Khalsa warrior single- handedly sliced an
elephant’s stomach by eloping underneath it as he had consumed bhang.

WHY DOES THE RELIGIOUS ELEMENT MATTER?

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Coming back to the paragraph we started
with, various events have taken place in
the history of our country which have
been justified or carried out in the name
of religion, indicating the presence of
religious misuse in our society. This was
again elaborated by citing various
festivals and historical records. This
essentially means that the legalization
debate can also be argued with a historical and religious backing. These
movements, motivated by religion and culture (especially when ignited against
certain laws) can turn detrimental and leave the government in an ineffectual
position wherein it has to succumb to demands in order to avoid a larger menace.
An apt example would be the jat agitations for reservation wherein thousands of
people came out on the streets of haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan as
they related with a sense of community struggle. These events took such a
massive form that the army and paramilitary forces had to be deployed and the
government had to put a stop to it by pacifying the community. The jalli kattu
protest is also an example of such struggles.
The tripe talaq issue was also argued in India’s highest court on the basis of
historical evidences and quotes from hadiths and Quran. This again shows that
religious sanction can motivate and moreover inspire people to defy the law.

IS RELIGIOUS SANCTION ENOUGH TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA?


This paper talked about marijuana holding a significant position in religious
history and how it has travelled to the modern times. But this significant question
needs to be answered in light of the recent trends which have been seen in the
country.
It is pretty evident that not everything mentioned in sacred texts is omnipotent or
free from state’s interference. If all texts available are applied, a situation of chaos
and violence is bound to follow. Certain unwanted elements like child marriage,
sati, and triple talaq have come under strict scrutiny and the courts have made it
clear that the constitution overrides all these practices and also holds precedence
above all of them.
The rising number of drug addicts in India clearly shows that there is a difference
between the intended use and the actual use of the substance. Holi might hold the
position of a festival in one’s mind but it can also be a day for acquiring the next
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consignment for a peddler. This is where the need of a third party (the
government) comes into picture as they need to effectively monitor all shipments
and sales of the authorized dealers, right from the farm to the final retailer.
Similarly, the purpose of bhang in the Sikh community was defeated when some
followers started abusing it instead of using it as a remedy. There exists stories
and tales wherein guru gobind singh ji advised the warriors to use bhang during
wartime and this claim can also be supplemented by mentioning the widespread
use of marijuana in the world war ii. But, at the same time the Sikh rehat maryada
(Sikh code of conduct) restricts the usage of any type of intoxicant and the guru
granth sahib also abhors the use of bhang.
If the Hindu mythology is considered along with accounts of lord Manu, usage of
intoxicants is again mentioned in certain amounts but the person must come out
of the addiction if he falls into its trap.

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MEDICINAL BENEFITS

1. BRAIN CELL GROWTH


According to a paper that appeared in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, the
authors, which include Xia Chang, marijuana promotes brain cell growth while
treating mood disorders. Using a cannabinoid named HU210, which is found in
marijuana, it has been found that right dosages and chronic uses can cause brain
cell growth in the hippocampus region of adult rats and also help in improving
moods with treating anxiety and stress.
“Chronic, but not acute, HU210 treatment promoted neurogenesis in the
hippocampal dentate gyrus of adult rats and exerted anxiolytic- and
antidepressant-like effects. X-irradiation of the hippocampus blocked both the
neurogenic and behavioural effects of chronic HU210 treatment, suggesting that
chronic HU210 treatment produces anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects
likely via promotion of hippocampal neurogenesis.” -Abstract, Cannabinoids
Promote Embryonic and Adult Hippocampus Neurogenesis and Produce
Anxiolytic- And Antidepressant-Like Effects
2. CHRONIC PAIN AND MUSCLE SPASMS
A report released on 12th January 2017 by the national institute of medical
sciences found substantial or conclusive evidence (at the most definivitive levels)
that marijuana or cannabis as it is also known, can help in treatment of chronic
pain which is “by far the most common” reason people request medicinal
marijuana. The report also found that cannabis can help in treatment of muscle
spasms relating multiple sclerosis and help prevent or treat nausea and vomiting
associated with chemotherapy. It has also been seen a particular case that it has
used to treat diaphragm seizures relating to the Leeuwenhoek’s disease, although
there is no scientific evidence in this case.
“One of the therapeutic uses of cannabis and cannabinoids is to treat chronic
pain in adults. The committee found evidence to support that patients who were
treated with cannabis or cannabinoids were more likely to experience a
significant reduction in pain symptoms.” -Press Release by National Academy of
Sciences on The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids the Current State
of Evidence and Recommendations for Research”
“Furthermore, in adults with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, there
was conclusive evidence that certain oral cannabinoids were effective in

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preventing and treating those ailments.” -Press Release by National Academy of
Sciences on The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids the Current State”
“There is substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic
pain in adults.” Conclusion 4-1, Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids
the Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research”

3. GLAUCOMA TREATMENT
One of the most common reasons that states allow medical marijuana use is to
treat and prevent the eye disease glaucoma, which increases pressure in the
eyeball, damaging the optic nerve and causing loss of vision.
Marijuana decreases the pressure inside the eye, according to the national eye
institute:

"Studies in the early 1970s showed that marijuana, when smoked, lowered
intraocular pressure (IOP) in people with normal pressure and those with
glaucoma. In an effort to determine whether marijuana, or drugs derived from
marijuana, might be effective as a glaucoma treatment, the national eye institute
(NEI) supported research studies beginning in 1978. These studies demonstrated
that some derivatives of marijuana transiently lowered IOP when administered
orally, intravenously, or by smoking, but not when topically applied to the eye.”
-National Eye Institute

4. EPILEPSY AND DRAVER’S SYNDROME


Studies have shown that cannabidiol (CBD), another major marijuana compound,
seems to help people with treatment-resistant epilepsy.
A number of individuals have reported that marijuana is the only thing that helps
control their or their children's seizures.
A particular strain of medical marijuana, high in cannabidiol (CBD) and low in
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) also helps in controlling and reducing the seizures
caused by severe seizure disorder known as the Draver’s syndrome
“The median monthly frequency of motor seizures was 30·0 (iqr 11·0–96·0) at
baseline and 15·8 (5·6–57·6) over the 12-week treatment period. The median
reduction in monthly motor seizures was 36·5% (iqr 0–64·7)” - Cannabidiol In
Patients with Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy: An Open-Label Interventional Trial,
The Lancet Neurology
5. POTENTIAL FOR CANCER TREATMENT AND CONTROL
CBD may help prevent cancer from spreading, researchers at California pacific
medical center in san Francisco reported in 2007.

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Other very preliminary studies on aggressive brain tumours in mice or cell
cultures have shown that THC and CBD can slow or shrink tumours at the right
dose, which is a strong reason to do more research.
One 2014 study found that marijuana can significantly slow the growth of the
type of brain tumour associated with 80% of malignant brain cancer in people.

“Researchers at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute (CPMCRI,


a Sutter health affiliate) have found that a compound in cannabis previously
shown to decrease metastatic breast cancer now shows promise in stopping
aggressive brain cancer as well. The findings are particularly important given
the safety of the cannabis compound and the fact that patients with advanced
brain cancer have few options for treatment.” – Sutter Health California Pacific
Medical Center

“In summary, these data add further support to the concept that cannabinoids
both alone and in combination with each other, possess anticancer properties.
We have reaffirmed the effects that CBD and THC have on central intracellular
signalling pathways responsible for maintaining cell growth and survival, and
have shown that using these two cannabinoids concomitantly resulted in mild
synergism, which was also able to enhance the cytotoxic effect of irradiation.
Astonishing results were observed in vivo, where the triple combination of CBD,
THC, and irradiation significantly inhibited tumour progression in an orthotopic
syngeneic model.” Discussion, The Combination of Cannabidiol and Δ9-
Tetrahydrocannabinol Enhances the Anticancer Effects of Radiation in An Orthotopic
Murine Glioma Model

6. POTENTIAL TO SLOW DOWN THE PROGRESSION OF


ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
Marijuana may be able to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, a study
led by Kim janda of the Scripps research institute suggests.
The 2006 study, published in the journal molecular pharmaceutics, found that
THC (the active chemical in marijuana) slows the formation of amyloid plaques
by blocking the enzyme in the brain that makes them. These plaques kill brain
cells and are associated with Alzheimer’s.

“Scientists at the Scripps research institute have found that the active ingredient
in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, inhibits the formation of amyloid
plaque, the primary pathological marker for Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, the
study said, THC is "a considerably superior inhibitor of [amyloid plaque]
aggregation" to several currently approved drugs for treating the disease.”
– Press Release 080906, Year 2006

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A synthetic mixture of CBD and THC seems to preserve memory in a mouse
model of Alzheimer’s disease. Another study suggested that a THC-based
prescription drug called dronabinol was able to reduce behavioural disturbances
in dementia patients.

“Walther and colleagues used actigraphy and the neuropsychiatric inventory


(NPI) to investigate the effects of oral dronabinol 2.5 mg administered at 7 PM on
night-time agitation and behavioural disturbances in an open label pilot study
including six patients with dementia. Over two weeks of treatment objectively
measured nocturnal motor activity and the NPI total score were reduced, as were
the NPI items agitation, aberrant motor behaviour, appetite disturbances,
irritability and night-time behaviours. This study found no adverse effects during
the two-week trial period.”- cannabinoids and dementia: a review of clinical and
preclinical data (section 3.2 clinical findings)
7. LESSEN SIDE EFFECTS OF HEPATITIS C TREATMENT AND
INCREASE TREATMENT EFFECTIVENESS
Treatment for Hepatitis C infection is harsh: negative side effects include fatigue,
nausea, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and depression. Those side effects can last
for months, and lead many people to stop their treatment course early.
But a 2006 study in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
found that 86% of patients using marijuana successfully completed their Hepatitis
C therapy. Only 29% of non-smokers completed their treatment, possibly because
the marijuana helps lessen the treatment's side effects.
Marijuana also seems to improve the treatment's effectiveness: 54% of hep c
patients smoking marijuana got their viral levels low and kept them low, in
comparison to only 8% of non-smokers.
“Our results suggest that modest cannabis use may offer symptomatic and
virological benefit to some patients undergoing HCV treatment by helping them
maintain adherence to the challenging medication regimen – Conclusions,
Cannabis Use Improves Retention and Virological Outcomes in Patients Treated
for Hepatitis C”
8. REDUCES ARTHRITIS DISCOMFORT
Marijuana alleviates pain, reduces inflammation, and promotes sleep, which may
help relieve pain and discomfort for people with rheumatoid arthritis, researchers
announced in 2011.
Researchers from rheumatology units at several hospitals gave their patients
sativex, a cannabinoid-based pain-relieving medicine. After a two-week period,
people on sativex had a significant reduction in pain and improved sleep quality
compared to placebo users.

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Other studies have found that plant-derived cannabinoids and inhaled marijuana
can decrease arthritis pain, according to the national academies report.
“These data suggest that CB2R may be a potential therapeutic target of RA.”-
Conclusion, Expression of Cannabinoid Receptor 2 And Its Inhibitory Effects on
Synovial Fibroblasts in Rheumatoid Arthritis.
9. CANNABIS SOOTHES TREMORS FOR PEOPLE WITH
PARKINSON’S DISEASE.
Research from Israel shows that smoking marijuana significantly reduces pain
and tremors and improves sleep for Parkinson’s disease patients. Particularly
impressive was the improved fine motor skills among patients. This research
which was done in 2014, was again verified by a second Israeli study in 2017.

“Mean (SD) total score on the motor unified Parkinson disease rating scale score
improved significantly from 33.1 (13.8) at baseline to 23.2 (10.5) after cannabis
consumption (t = 5.9; p < 0.001). Analysis of specific motor symptoms revealed
significant improvement after treatment in tremor (p < 0.001), rigidity (p =
0.004), and bradykinesia (p < 0.001).” – Conclusions, Cannabis (Medical
Marijuana) Treatment for Motor and Non-Motor Systems of Parkinson’s
Disease: An Open-Label Observational Study

10.MARIJUANA MAY HELP VETERANS SUFFERING FROM PTSD


AND CAN HELP ELIMINATE NIGHTMARES
Naturally occurring cannabinoids, similar to THC, help regulate the system that
causes fear and anxiety in the body and brain.for people suffering from serious
nightmares, especially those associated with PTSD, this can be helpful, perhaps
in the short term. Nightmares and other dreams occur during those same stages
of sleep. By interrupting rem sleep, many of those dreams may not occur.
Research into using a synthetic cannabinoid — similar to THC but not the same
— showed a significant decrease in the number of nightmares in patients with
PTSD.
Additionally, even if frequent use can be bad for sleep, marijuana may be a better
sleep aid than some other substances that people use. Some of those, including
medication and alcohol, may potentially have worse effects on sleep, though more
research is needed on the topic.

“Such findings substantiate, at least in part, emerging evidence that synthetic


cannabinoid receptor agonists or plant-derived cannabinoids such as
marijuana may possess some benefits in individuals with PTSD by helping
relieve haunting nightmares and other symptoms of PTSD.”- Discussion,
Elevated Cannabinoid CB1 Receptor Availability in Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder: A Positron Emission Tomography Study
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11.MARIJUANA MIGHT EVEN PROTECT THE BRAIN FROM
CONCUSSIONS AND TRAUMA.
One of the more recent studies, which was published in the journal cerebral
cortex, found that using THC soon after incurring a brain injury can significantly
lessen the bruising to the brain and even assist in the healing process. Normally
when the brain experiences trauma, the body releases harmful mediators that lead
to excitotoxicity, oxidative stress and inflammation and causes secondary,
delayed neuronal death.
The use of cannabis, however, has been shown to decrease the damage done to
the brain by protecting the neural system. It even stimulated the release of
minocycline, which reduces brain swelling and neurological impairment while
diffusing further injuries to the brain’s axons.

Overall, the mice that were administered cannabinoid appeared to have


a significant reduction of brain swelling, better clinical recovery, reduced infarct
volume, and reduced brain cell death

“The results provided the first evidence for the involvement of ecs in the
neuroprotective action of minocycline on brain edema, neurological impairment,
diffuse axonal injury, and microglial activation, since all these effects were
prevented by the CB1 and CB2 receptor antagonists.”- Abstract, CB1 And CB2
Cannabinoid Receptor Antagonists Prevent Minocycline-Induced
Neuroprotection Following Traumatic Brain Injury in Mice

12. CANNABIS REDUCES SOME OF THE PAIN AND NAUSEA FROM


CHEMOTHERAPY AND STIMULATES APPETITE.
One of the most well-known medical uses of marijuana is for people going
through chemotherapy. There's good evidence that it's effective for this,
according to the national academies report. Cancer patients being treated with
chemo suffer from painful nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. This can cause
additional health complications. Marijuana can help reduce these side effects,
alleviating pain, decreasing nausea, and stimulating the appetite. There are also
multiple FDA-approved cannabinoid drugs that use THC, the main active
chemical in marijuana, for the same purpose.
“in adults with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, oral cannabinoids
are effective antiemetics.”-The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids,
Therapeutic Effects

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DISADVANTAGES OF MARIJUANA

1. ADVERSE EFFECT ON SEXUAL REPRODUCTIVITY (MALES)


Marijuana is said to have an adverse effect on sexual reproductivity of regular
users and smokers. It reduces sperm count in males while increasing the risk for
testicular cancer. A clear connection has been found between marijuana
consumption and tumours in the testicular germ cells. It has an adverse effect on
the endocannabinoid system and can interfere with the hormonal balance in the
human body leading to numerous physiological disorders.
“in this study on more than 1,200 healthy young men, of whom 45% had smoked
marijuana during the past 3 months, we found associations between regular use
of marijuana more than once per week during the past 3 months and reduced
semen quality, whereas no adverse association was found for irregular use.”-
association between use of marijuana and male reproductive hormones and
semen quality, oxford university press
““Heavy” cannabis use (defined as usage of more than 50 times in lifetime, as
measured at conscription) was associated with the incidence of testicular cancer
(n = 45,250; 119 testicular cancer cases; ahr 2.57; 95% CI, 1.02–6.50).” -
Results, Cannabis Use and Incidence of Testicular Cancer: A 42-Year Follow-Up of
Swedish Men Between 1970 And 2011
2. ADVERSE EFFECT ON SEXUAL REPRODUCTIVITY (FEMALES)
Marijuana may result in lower weight of infants, where women smoked marijuana
during pregnancy. Marijuana may be very harmful for pregnant women as it can
restrict the growth of foetus and cause cognitive defects in the offspring. Such
children have a risk of mental retardation from birth. Chronic use of the drug may
even lead to infertility and severe hormonal imbalance in the human body,
although there are controversies regarding this issue.
“Prenatal cannabis use was associated with a 50% increased likelihood of low
birth weight, independent of maternal age, race/ethnicity, level of education, and
tobacco use during pregnancy”- Results, Cannabis Use During the Perinatal
Period in A State with Legalized Recreational and Medical Marijuana: The
Association Between Maternal Characteristics, Breastfeeding Patterns, And
Neonatal Outcomes
“Marijuana abuse during pregnancy and adolescence represents a major health
problem owing to its potential consequences on neural development. Prenatally
cannabis-exposed children display cognitive deficits, suggesting that maternal
consumption has interfered with the proper maturation of the brain- Conclusion,

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Lasting Impacts of Prenatal Cannabis Exposure and The Role of Endogenous
Cannabinoids in The Developing Brain
3. MENTAL ILLNESS
This is by far the most dangerous effect of marijuana among young smokers. The
consumption is mainly done to achieve a state of relaxation and pleasure.
However, it can lead to the development of psychiatric disorders or worsen the
mental stature of a person. With long term usage of the drug, psychosis can even
become acute and chronic. Some people have also shown to have developed
schizophrenic symptoms over years of marijuana usage, if they genetically
susceptible to the disease. Though marijuana gives a temporary state of happiness
upon usage, it can actually drive a person more towards depression with years of
usage. It reduces a person’s ability to cope with pain and confusion, thus driving
them to become moody and mentally fragile. Cannabis users have also been
observed to exhibit increased suicidal tendencies than general population.
“Daily use in young women was associated with an over fivefold increase in the
odds of reporting a state of depression and anxiety after adjustment for
intercurrent use of other substances (odds ratio 5.6, 95% confidence interval 2.6
to 12). Weekly or more frequent cannabis use in teenagers predicted an
approximately twofold increase in risk for later depression and anxiety.” -
Results, Cannabis Use and Mental Health in Young People: Cohort Study.

“Mental disorder at age 15 led to a small but significantly elevated risk of


cannabis use at age 18; by contrast, cannabis use at age 18 elevated the risk of
mental disorder at age 21.” -Findings, A Longitudinal Study of Cannabis Use
and Mental Health from Adolescence to Early Adulthood

“Our research demonstrates that cannabis has a differential risk on susceptible


versus non-susceptible individuals. In other words, young people with a genetic
susceptibility to schizophrenia - those who have psychiatric disorders in their
families - should bear in mind that they're playing with fire if they smoke pot
during adolescence.” Dr. Ran Braziley (author), BDNF Overexpression Prevents
Cognitive Deficit Elicited by Adolescent Cannabis Exposure and Host
Susceptibility Interaction

“•Perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness increase suicide


ideation (SI).
•Daily users had more SI, more thwarted belongingness, and perceived
burdensomeness.

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•Daily cannabis use was indirectly related to SI via these factors.” -Highlights,
Cannabis Use and Suicidal Ideation: Test of The Utility of The Interpersonal-
Psychological Theory of Suicide

4. LOSS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, IMPAIRED ANALYTICAL


AND PSYCHOMOTOR SKILLS
Marijuana is a depressant and hallucinogen. When consumed, the chemicals are
absorbed by the body, thus making the senses weak. The sensation of relaxation
actually arises from the fact that the body becomes less sensitive to external
stimulus. It can make a person lose track of time and impair the ability to perform
tasks that require concentration, coordination and swift reflexes. A person may
continue laughing or crying even without any reason. Marijuana increases the
appetite and heightens the senses of hunger, which can cause a person eat a lot
after the consumption of the drug. The feeling of ‘high’ can last from about two
to eight hours and can hamper one’s thinking skills and ability to indulge in
physical activities. It results in impaired analytical skills, academic
underperformance as well impaired psychomotor skills.
“Marijuana has triggered psychotic episodes in those more vulnerable.
Psychological and some instances of physiological dependence on marijuana
have been demonstrated. As a psychoactive drug, marijuana surely alters mental
functioning” -Abstract, Marijuana's Effects on Human Cognitive Functions,
Psychomotor Functions, And Personality.
“Like alcohol, marijuana acts as both stimulant and depressant” -Abstract,
Marijuana's Effects on Human Cognitive Functions, Psychomotor Functions,
And Personality.
“Research has indicated that marijuana intoxication definitely hinders attention,
long-term memory storage, and psychomotor skills involved in driving a car or
flying a plane” -Abstract, Marijuana's Effects on Human Cognitive Functions,
Psychomotor Functions, And Personality.
“Smoked active marijuana significantly increased total daily caloric intake by
40%.” -Abstract, Effects of Smoked Marijuana on Food Intake and Body Weight
of Humans Living in A Residential Laboratory.

5. HEART DISEASE

Marijuana consumption increases the heart beat rate by manifold and reduces the
blood pressure. This increases the risks of a heart attack among marijuana

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smokers. Marijuana also can also cause blood to clot in the blood vessels of the
brain. It has been medically proved that the drug increases the risk of a stroke
among adolescents. The immediate effects can be felt by smokers in the form of
palpitation, often associated with breathlessness. Besides the psychological
effects of the drug are also linked with impact on the heart. The sense of panic
and anxiety also aggravates the heart condition, thus increasing the risks of heart
damage among regular marijuana smokers.

“The literature suggests the occurrence of harmful effects including fatal


cardiovascular events that could be related to cannabis use. Further research
and studies are needed to determine the impact of acute and especially the
chronic regular use of cannabis on various organ systems, particularly the
cardiovascular system.” -Conclusions, Role of Cannabis in Cardiovascular
Disorders

6. LUNG DISEASE

Smoking marijuana has similar effects of the respiratory system as tobacco.


Preliminary effects include burning and stinging of the throat and mouth, often
associated with heavy coughing. Smoking a ‘joint’ involves holding the breath
longer and inhale deeper, thus causing the dense smoke to burn the smooth inner
lining of the windpipe, making it more susceptible to infections. Chronic use of
the drug in the form of smoking causes deposition of particulate matter in the
inner parts of the lungs and formation of rashes, leading to severe respiratory
problems with age. Marijuana smokers have also been reported to have impaired
senses of smell and taste, as the hot smoke also damages nasal sensory parts and
the throat.

“There is clear evidence that marijuana causes similar symptoms to tobacco


smoking (chronic bronchitis) and produces similar large airway pathological
features.” Effect of Cannabis Smoking on Lung Function and Respiratory
Symptoms: A Structured Literature Review

7. SOCIAL DISCONNECTION

Drug users are not generally held with high regard in the society. Be it tobacco or
marijuana or alcohol, any form of drug abuse deteriorates the life of the
individual, by crippling his social life. If loneliness or anxiety is the reason behind
one’s consumption of marijuana, it will do little to improve his life. Thus, the
effect is iterative and gradually engulfs the life of the addict, driving him crazy
or suicidal. People tend to become short-tempered and relationships die out. For

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adolescents, it poses a major threat, because it can make them underperformer
and underachiever in life.

8. ADDICTION

Though the withdrawal symptoms may not be as ugly as with other drugs,
continued use of marijuana can lead to addiction. Once a person gets habituated
to the feelings of pleasure that arise from smoking weed, it might actually become
very difficult to quit. As, pointed out earlier, it might even drive a person towards
the usage of other drugs to heightens the feelings. Marijuana, like all other drugs
affect the body and mind in a similar way, which actually makes it difficult to
quit. Just like it takes very less time for a cigarette smoker to go from novice to a
chain smoker, so is the case with marijuana, or even graver. Though marijuana
may be medically useful in some cases, usages in heavy and frequent doses,
ultimately leads to a chronic condition when it becomes a necessity for the person.
And definitely this form of addiction is dangerous and might even prove fatal.

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EXPERIENCE WITH LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA

OREGON: THE FIRST US STATE TO DECRIMINALIZE MARIJUANA

The US government played a very strong move economically by decriminalizing


marijuana for the supposed “recreational purposes” but when we carefully
analyze the situation it was just a way to bring more revenue from marijuana
under the legal taxation system.
Marijuana is an essential component of various medical and chemical industries
and is also acquired by users for other medical and psychological reasons. For
safety assurance they installed a tracking cannabis system, and made the citizens
of the entire state sign an undertaking for holding them accountable if they were
involved in the illicit trading of narcotics. This way was taken into due
consideration after conducting research on Oregon’s quasiunderground
marijuana economy of Oregon. The respondent driven sampling procedures
(RDS) used in the research suggested that marijuana users consume an average
of 4.5 ounce a year and pay $177 per ounce. A majority of them indicated that
they purchased marijuana from friends and even indicated that they sold small
quantities themselves. These respondents sold the drugs inauspiciously and made
an average of $10,000 annually. This suggests that the marijuana economy is a
robust network of people who are interconnected nodes and facilitate buying and
selling amongst each other. Legalization would not only statistically proven
increase the net economic income of the taxing government but will
psychologically make the drug less appealing to its most tenacious demography
the adolescents. It would also make it easier to make useful drugs out of it and
license them in the market.
Oregon has the highest rate of marijuana consumption in the US prior to its
legalization. With approximately 14.2% people who are under the 16, have
consumed it once in a year.
Oregon has also developed the oldest marijuana medical programs in the USA.
Oregon raked marijuana as having a market capitalization of 475 million dollars
making it the second most valued agricultural commodity.

REVIEW OF THE MARKETS


Informal economy in which marijuana trade is facilitated can be defined as an
amalgam of transactions far from judicial regulation. All activities which are
registered by the government for example businesses, sales, taxes, etc. can be
considered to be a part of the legal or official economy. Informal activity may
also refer to anything that is off of the official books, like unpaid salaries or
wages. This may also include barter, distillation of weaponry, counterfeit goods
and a concoction of illicit financial arrangements, prostitution, security, etc.
There is a further bifurcation of the economy in the primary and secondary labor
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markets. The former includes the jobs characterized by higher paying and safety
insured jobs, while the other one is characterized by lower paying and no financial
security ones. The marijuana traders in these areas have maintained an oligopoly
over the buyers in these areas.

The situation is further complicated by rationalizations offered by marijuana


growers: though the amount of marijuana produced and sold in the state likely
rivals other top commodities, the vast majority of producers reportedly engage in
this activity to help other people and are not attempting to earn a significant profit.
Sales by growers seem to offset personal use costs, offset production costs, and
make up for slightly lower than average incomes. This finding could be
attributable, in part, to sampling bias, as all of the growers in this study are
considered “small-scale” (fewer than 99 plants; all but two had less than $10,000
in annual sales). Even larger producers must exist to meet in-state demand;
however, none were identified using the RDS procedure. The implications of this
are profound: if a legalized distribution system were put into place with limited
production licenses or mutually-exclusive tiers of operation (as has occurred in
Washington), thousands of small growers would be locked out of this emerging
market, while a few large-scale producers will reap most of the benefits. For a
state with high unemployment and significant income inequality, it is difficult to
envision this type of change as positive.

Proponents of legalization often cite potential tax revenue as a justification for


altering the current legal environment. How much could the state of Oregon raise
if the drug were legalized? The answer depends on the true market size, effective
tax rates levied, retail price, and the proposed method of production and
distribution.

There is more public support for marijuana law reform than ever before with new
polls showing more than half the country is in favor of legalizing marijuana. The
Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) believes marijuana should be removed from the
criminal justice system and regulated like alcohol and tobacco.

The Drug Policy Alliance is currently working on marijuana legalization


campaigns in New Jersey, New Mexico and New York

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MARIJUANA AND RACIAL DISCRIMINATION

New solutions marijuana reform campaign

Is working to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol for adults in New
Jersey. New Jersey’s marijuana laws have had a disproportionate impact on
communities of color. Marijuana legalization in New Jersey must be fair and
equitable and must address past disproportionate harms to communities of color.

Grow New Mexico

DPA has been advocating at the state legislature for passage of a constitutional
amendment allowing the possession, use, and sales of marijuana in New
Mexico. This will increase tax revenue, generate commerce and support the
agricultural economy.

Start smart NY – sensible marijuana access through regulated trade

This campaign is dedicated to ending marijuana prohibition in New York. It is


believed that it is time to stop the ineffective, racially biased, and unjust
enforcement of marijuana prohibition and to create a new, well-regulated, and
inclusive marijuana industry that is rooted in racial and economic justice.

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DISTINCTION BETWEEN MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION AND
DECRIMINALIZATION

Decriminalisation of marijuana is not the same as legalization of marijuana.


Decriminalization means that a state repealed or amended its laws to make certain
acts criminal, but no longer subject to prosecution. In the marijuana context, this
means individuals caught with small amounts of marijuana for personal
consumption won’t be prosecuted and won’t subsequently receive a criminal
record or a jail sentence. In many states, possession of small amounts of
marijuana is treated like a minor traffic violation. States that have decriminalised
marijuana include Alaska, California, New York, Minnesota, North Carolina,
Oregon, and much of the northeast.

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THE MYTHS OF MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION IN INDIA

The NDPS Act, 1985 criminalizes narcotics and other substances,


Government had been putting pressure for it since '60s. In 1985 Rajiv Gandhi
government buckled under the pressure.
• “Two American states, Washington and Colorado, decided to legalize,
recreational use of marijuana - was the norm in India until 1985. All
cannabis derivatives - marijuana (grass or ganja), hashish (charas) and
bhang - were legally sold in this country. As a matter of fact, most state
governments had their own retail shops to sell these drugs. India has
known, consumed and celebrated ganja, charas and bhang for millennia."
• "Their consumption was never regarded as socially deviant behavior any
more than drinking alcohol was."
• "Keeping marijuana legal was actually an enlightened view. It is now
medically proven that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol."
• "For 25 years since 1961, it has withstood American pressure to keep
marijuana legal. Which brings us to the story of why it was banned in India.
• Since 1961, the US has been campaigning for a global law against all drugs,
both hard and soft. Given that ganja, charas and bhang were a way of life
in India, we opposed the drastic measure. But by the early '80s, American
society was grappling with some drug problems and opinion had grown
against the "excesses" of the hippie generation. In 1985, the Rajiv Gandhi
government buckled under the pressure and enacted a law called the
narcotic drugs & psychotropic substances (NDPS) act.

Although, cannabis is legal in certain states in India, like Orissa. You can walk
up to a government excise shop and buy your day's need. (told by Tathagata
Satpathy. Member of Parliament, Chief Whip of BJD, editor of Dharitri & Orissa
post. Ama)

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ARGUMENTS FOR LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA

In the past few decades, marijuana has been engineered to have much more
significant effects than earlier. Marijuana consists of two components: THC and
CBD. Out of the two, THC helps in further promulgating the severe effects of
marijuana while CBD helps in counteracting these effects. THC is also known to
cause psychosis, whereas CBD is widely being tested as an effective antidote
against anxiety and other psychological problems.
Studies have shown that the ratio of THC to CBD has drastically increased over
the past few years, making the marijuana available in the markets much stronger.
THC levels. Sample testing showed that THC levels have risen from around 4%
in the 1990s to nearly 10% in 2008, shifting the ratio of THC to CBD from 1:14
in 1995 to about 1:80 in 2014.

THC levels in marijuana over the years

Hence the reasoning goes that if marijuana is legalized, there would be a higher
chance of marijuana induced psychosis among the general population. On its
merits the above argument seems intuitive and offers a good reason for preventing
the legalization of marijuana.
However, let us consider a similar case where a harmful substance was outlawed
by the government: the prohibition on alcohol in the united states in the 1920s
and 1930s. As a result of this prohibition, some individual citizens took it upon
themselves to produce alcohol illegally. Moreover, the quality of the alcohol now
produced was worse than that of the alcohol produced during the pre-prohibition
years. Alcohol consumption during the years of the prohibition, even with
stringent checks, was never eliminated from the American society.

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That is the case with many marijuana smokers today. They obtain their marijuana
from black markets, where the quality and THC content of marijuana goes
unregulated. The numbers clearly show that despite the illegalization of
marijuana, there still is a rampant consumption in society. Legalization of
marijuana would allow the government to exercise some control of this
completely unregulated market and to enact laws regarding the same. For
example, the government could stipulate a minimum THC to CBD content ratio
for the marijuana that is produced in order to alleviate the severe effects that the
drug poses.

CASE STUDY: PORTUGAL


In 2001, Portugal was plagued with a major drug problem. In 1999, Portugal had
the highest rate of HIV amongst injecting drug users in the European Union. The
number of heroin users was estimated to be between 50,000 and 100,000 at the
end of the 1990s. The steps that Portugal took to address these concerns were
downright unconventional but surprisingly effective. Portugal’s new drug policy
decriminalized all forms of illegal drugs. It changed its enforcement from a
criminal one to an administrative one. If you were found with a less than 10-day
supply of drugs, you would no longer be charged with a criminal offence. Instead
you would be sent to get support help along with medical treatment and care.
Their notion of drug use was one of a chronic disease instead of a crime. The
results of this operation carried out by the Portuguese government were
unprecedentedly stunning. The number of people who tried drugs and then
continued their consumption fell from 44% to 28% in 2012. Moreover, the
consumption of hard drugs among the population decreased and the reports of
cases regarding HIV and overdose deaths were also on the decline. The number
of drug related deaths has reduced from 131 in 2001 to 10 in 2011. The case of
Portugal presents an interesting argument for the legalization of drugs in a
country. Although it is counterintuitive to think that allowing the use of drugs
would actually help mollify the effects of said drugs, it is also logically
perceivable that if certain activities are brought under the ambit of the
government and if the government is allowed to impose certain standards
regarding that market’s functioning, it can yield an overall benefit to society. It
shifts these activities from the black market into the white market and the
government can also earn revenue by taxing incomes from these activities.

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Drug Induced Deaths in Portugal

HIGHER DRUG ADDICTS AMONG THE POPULATION


It is also said that another negative outcome of the legalization of marijuana is
that it serves as the impetus for a larger section of the population addicted to
drugs. In simple terms what it means to say is that if the population can legally
access one such class of drugs it will create a temptation among the consumers of
such drugs to try out other drugs. This will further promote the problems
concerning drugs in a country.
However, the problem concerning drug addiction begins at a much earlier phase
in life: smoking. A study conducted by Shenghan Lai et al, titled “The association
between cigarette smoking and drug abuse in the united states”, conducted
logistic regression analyses concerning drug abuse and cigarette consumption.
The study found that people who smoked cigarettes were far more likely to get
addicted to cocaine, heroin, crack or even marijuana. It suggested that smoking
is actually the gateway to future drug addictions.
It is important to analyse the main reason as to why people indulge in the usage
of drugs. Regardless of whether drugs are legal or not, people generally consume
such harmful substances to escape emotional or mental trauma that affects their
daily lives. Hence, in the context of the approach used by Portugal if the
possession of drugs is seen as rather a medical condition than a crime, these
people could be sent to treatment facilities rather than prison. Not only would this

26 | P a g e
help in the rehabilitation of these people, the number of consumers of drugs would
also decrease with time.

GREATER REVENUE FOR THE GOVERNMENT


Any income from clandestine activities usually go untaxed by the government.
Not only does this mean there are lesser funds for the government to fund public
programmes, but it also means that while formulating policies, government
officers and economists often work with incomplete data and have to make
estimates regarding the unregulated sector of the economy. By bringing activities
like drug trading under the wing of the government, the government can have a
better idea of the income of the people involved in this sector and public funds
can be more accurately appropriated, in addition to the receipt of additional
revenue by the government. In Colorado, where marijuana was legalized in 2014,
the government has seen an increase in public revenue in the years that followed.

In Oregon marijuana was also legalized in 2014 and the effects have been quite
noticeable. Stores sold $250 million in cannabis products which resulted in $70
million in state tax revenue, markedly higher than a predicted $36 million in
revenue.

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IMPLICATIONS OF MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION IN INDIA
Marijuana can serve as a potential cash crop for the economically weaker section
of the farmers in India. The cannabis plant is something natural to India,
especially the northern hilly regions. It has the potential of becoming a cash crop
for poor marginal farmers. If proper research is done and cultivation of marijuana
encouraged at an official level, it can gradually become a source of income for
poor people with small landholdings. In states like himachalane Pradesh and
Tamil Nadu, where cannabis plants grow, marijuana is the only source of income
for many locals. However, being a banned substance, the farmers are forced to
sell it at a very cheap price to the drug dealers. With legalization, this can be sold
at higher prices in the regulated market.
Legalizing of marijuana will lead to a rise in the growth of GDP. Imposing tax on
selling of marijuana will anyway help in keeping a control over its production,
and it would be a help to the Indian economy. Such marijuana in Netherlands
contributes $3.2 billion with an annual gross.
Moreover, it will also lead to job creation in many parts of the country. In
Colorado, 10,000 new jobs were created with the legalization of marijuana.
Similarly, there could be a reduction in the unemployment rates and an increase
in per capita income of the country with the legalization of marijuana.

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POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS
If the government choses to legalize marijuana in India, the following model can
be followed:
• Central government should fix an age for consumption of recreational
marijuana. Since the minimum drinking age in the country is currently 25,
that should perhaps be the standard for marijuana consumption as well.
• Only government licensed shops should be allowed to marijuana. Such
shops should be subject to regular checks on the quality of marijuana sold
in order to ensure harmful substances do not pervade the market.
• The government should stipulate a maximum THC to CBD content ratio
for the marijuana production. Highly stringent checks must be put into
place to ensure that quality standards are maintained.
• A proper framework regarding retribution and rehabilitation of those who
are found engaging in excessive drug use must be put in place. Policies
similar to those applied in Portugal can also be applicable in India.
• There should be a maximum limit on the amount of marijuana that can be
purchased by a person during the course of a month.
• Just like the packaging on cigarettes, the packaging for marijuana should
clearly warn the consumer about the possible harmful effects of use of
marijuana.
• Officials must carry out surprise checks at production centres to ensure that
marijuana produced is well within the safety range and does not contain
excessive levels of THC.

Only a systematic and carefully regulated framework can ensure a successful


implementation of the policy and can help cut down the situation of drug overdose
in India.

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CONCLUSION
We can conclude that the usage of marijuana in all sorts of historical and religious
texts is situational, medicinal or simply a compulsion to sustain oneself in harsh
weather or in the battle field. The modern times don’t present such situations but
drugs simply become a person’s last resort due to financial incentives, peer
pressure, dependency or just curiosity. This means that the legalization debate
can’t draw lessons or teachings from religious texts and sayings simply because
the intended purpose is totally neglected today and if any policy to legalize it is
deliberated, much more reliance
needs to be placed upon
medicinal benefits, its
disadvantages, economic and
social ramifications and a
thorough cost- benefit analysis is
required to deal with a potentially
sensitive issue. It has been
observed with accompanying
research that legalization may be
advantageous to India’s economy
since that money then comes under tax governance and becomes liable. It can
provide a boost to the country’s economy. As far as social ramifications are
concerned, it would lead to less drug induced deaths as seen in the case of
Portugal, can provide sustenance to economically weaker farmers in India.
However, claims that marijuana will lead to induced psychosis in the society and
is a gateway drug resulting in many deaths is also false. All in all. Legalization
of marijuana, under proper regulation can be extremely beneficial to society and
economy. This project also concludes that marijuana should be legalized and
what challenges shall we face and what models should be adopted for legalizing
marijuana.
The people who were interviewed during the course of this project all said
emphasised that regulation during legalization is necessary to prevent the
situation from spiralling downwards, and that rehabilitative approach is equally
important as the punitive approach to solve the problem. The interviewees have
differing views with regards to legalization and are all cautious of the challenges
that lie ahead.

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APPENDIX
To gather additional information from people who have encounters with drug
related cases and people who use drugs, we interviewed some people to gather
their respective opinions and to understand the opinion of the potential
legalization amongst different professions. The following people were
interviewed to understand the viewpoint on non-drug users encountering such
people:

1. Mr. Shiv Kumar (Head Constable, Delhi Police) (from here, referred to as
SK) (Mr. Kumar’s interview is written separately)

2. Ms. Anita Veigas (Technical Officer, Central Drug Standard Control


Organisation) (from here, referred to as AV)

3. Ms. Vanita Bhargava (Partner, Khaitan and Co.) (from here, referred to as
VB)

To get an understanding from a drug user’s point of view, we also interviewed


Ms. Sita Chatterjee (from here, referred to as SC) (Drug Helpline) who helped us
understand legalization from a different perspective.

Lastly, we interviewed Mr. R.K. Dhingra, Indian Navy Commodore whose


expertise and experience in strategic planning within the Navy and controlling
narcotics entering through the sea, on his opinion on legalization of marijuana.

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MR. SHIV KUMAR’S INTERVIEW

Q1. What are your views on the legalization of marijuana in India?

SK: Drug related crimes come under the Narcotics Department of the Delhi
Police. We are just involved in arresting the suspect and forwarding the
information to the Narcotics Department. Majority of crimes which occur in
North Delhi are actually committed by minors who are not in their consciousness
as they either drink alcohol or consume drugs. I think even alcohol should be
banned because almost all crimes related to domestic violence are committed in
a drunken state.

Q2. What symptoms/problems do drug abusers face when they are jailed?

SK: Sometimes the situation gets so intense that the police has to provide certain
drugs to the prisoner. But I think in this case it the doctor whose commands are
to be followed by us. Many people can’t even be at rest without it. But I think,
this confinement also acts as a rehabilitation center and removes their urge.

Q3. Certain countries have allowed the sale of drugs (which are banned in
India) via chemist shops. Do you think this will be viable in a country like
India?

SK: If we consider thekas in Delhi, they are allowed to sell liquor only between
10PM-12AM, but still we witness a large number of crimes due to liquor
influence. If we allow chemists to sell something like drugs then I think more
people will start consuming drugs instead of alcohol and we won’t be able to
regulate all these chemist shops.

Q4. Do you think the government has a vested interested in the sale of
intoxicated substances?

SK: Yes, I think government allows partial usage during festivities because they
collect a lot of tax on these substances. Some states have now banned alcohol but
it has essentially introduced a new crime i.e. the smuggling of liquor.

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MS. VEIGAS AND MS. BHARGAVA’S INTERVIEW

Q1. What is your take on marijuana legalization?

AV: Well, relevant to the culture in India, Marijuana or Drug Legalization for
that matter would not be very significant because of the Conservative culture. The
people who are consuming drugs will still consume them and hide pertaining to
the social norms of the country and those who don’t won’t do it either ways.
However, if it does get legalized it will have a great impact on the medical
benefits since those who need the drug won’t have to go through long and tedious
procedures. However, according to the Government’s stance Recreational Use of
Marijuana cannot contribute as a factor to legalization as the youth of the country,
with low income levels if they do come under the influence would find it difficult
to sustain themselves. Therefore, Marijuana Legalization should only be relevant
to an extent that it is contributing to Medical Factors solely.
VB: Yes, marijuana should be legalized since the quality and use can be
regulated. Also, the tax revenue that can be generated can be uses for public good
as was done in Texas in US where tax revenue generated on sale of marijuana
was used to provide scholarships to needy students.

Q2. Do you believe there is something wrong with the way our law treats
drug addicts by taking Punitive Measures against them?

AV: At my office we regularly deal with Drug Users who have been penalized
for even having drugs, while there was no sign of consumption in their blood.
There was one case in 2014, where we interacted with a minor carrying 20gm of
Narcotics. It was clear he was forced to. However, his lawyer could not prove
extortion or threat propelling him to do so. As a result, he was scrutinized and
sent to serve in the Minor Corrective Centre. These are the aspects where our
legal system fails to differentiate between those who are innocent and those who
consume drugs on a legal basis. The way those who have substantial evidence of
drugs being found in their blood call for straight detention and not Rehabilitation
in the initial stages.

VB: The punitive action is a deterrent for drug abuse but along with the same
rehabilitative approach has to be adopted by the authorities.

33 | P a g e
Q3- Can the Legalization of Marijuana as done in the US can be done in
India. What will be the implications according to you?

AV: So, I mentioned about the culture which is very different from the USA,
where states like Oregon and Oklahoma have legalized Cannabis and other forms
of Narcotics. However, this is an economic centric move as the government just
wants to bring the drug under legal regulation and enjoy tax income. However,
they haven’t considered how it can impact the youth or anyone who might be
vulnerable to its consumption. I think the government of India has had a much
rational approach to the situation in the terms of consideration for the youth.

VB: The enforcement agencies in India are not equipped. There are also deep-
rooted corruption issues which can pose a challenge in regulating the use. As a
beginning, use can be restricted for use of hemp, a byproduct of marijuana to be
used in textile industry, paper industry etc. and not be used for recreation purpose.

Q4. How will it impact substance abuse among the younger generations?

AV: According to me there is no guarantee that legalization would bring down


the number of drug users. And further pointing out that the mentality of people is
very different in these two countries, there is no evidence to the fact that the result
of such legalization would be favorable to the economy or the youth.

VB: Even though legalization is a positive measure and will reduce substance
abuse but without proper and effective enforcement mechanism and without
awareness measures the positive impact of legalization on youth would not be
visible.

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MS. SITA CHATTERJEE’S INTERVIEW

Q1. How do you think Marijuana users would react to its legalization?

SC: Well, Initially I think all of them would be very happy since they would be
able to buy it legally. Half of the calls that we get are of pure guilt of the fact of
hiding the drugs from their families, police officers and other people who are
suspicious. However, half the people who reconsider to not use drugs are because
of the “risk factor” associated with it. When we will remove the risk factor we
are indirectly encouraging this lethal consumption.

Q2. You interact with a large number of drug users on a daily basis. What
do you think is the major factor why they take drugs?

SC: Every individual who consumes drugs is a victim of a social, economic or


mental scenario. As a result, when they first consume drugs they are mentally and
physically drained to a point where they just want to escape. And drugs provide
an escape temporarily. Half the calls we get are from guilt-stricken individuals
who want to quit consumption but are unable to do so. They also regularly
complain of the aftermath of their decisions and pre-emptory norm they have in
their minds or the simple fear of rehabilitation centers. If rather than telling them
to stop we show them how drug users have derailed their careers, potential and
families. And has left them in a situation of what we call “no escape anymore”.
Also, there must be a spread of positive information about rehabilitation centers
providing help to those who seek it.

Q3. Do you think if Marijuana was legalized the psychographics of


adolescents consuming drugs under peer pressure would reduce as it would
ultimately lose its “Cool Factor”?

SC: Of course, a majority of minors forced into drug consumption is due to "peer
pressure”. However, when it will be legalized it will obviously lose its cool factor
making it less appealing to them and thus positively influencing their minds about
this poison.

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MR R.K. DHINGRA’S INTERVIEW

Q1. What is your take on Marijuana Legalisation in India?


RK: I am against legalizing it in India. Indians cannot handle it.

Q2. Do you think there is something wrong in the way our law treats drug
addicts by taking punitive action against them?

RK: In a country like ours, stringent action needs to be taken so one cannot
blame the laws in our country. However, it would be ideal if it can be handled
with a little sensitivity at the micro level (family/friends/immediate social
circle).

Q3. Can the legalisation of Marijuana as done in US also be done in India


and what could be its possible implications?
RK : Too difficult to be monitored and implemented. India as such lies very close
to the Opium Golden Crescent nations.

Q4. How will it impact substance abuse among the younger generations?
RK: Unfortunately, this would just open the flood gates for substance abuse
amongst the younger generation. Our population is large and awareness levels
low. India may just land up becoming "Udta India”.

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