Legality of Weed in India?

Legality of Weed in India?

Author: Snigdha Shandilya & Pritish Kumar Pattnaik

Are you aware of your legal rights and permissible limits of law in case of possessing Cannabis? There is a lot to know about the legality of weed in India.

Weed, commonly known as Marijuana, Ganja, Bhang, and various other India names for 100 of years. Charas has been an important aspect of in India of its usage. People used it widely to make ‘Thandai’ during the festivals like Holi and Shivratri by mixing cannabis seeds and leaves in the milkshake. Marijuana was made illegal in India back in 1986 due to the US’s immense pressure to put stringent narcotic laws on its transportation, sale, and production. There has been an argument against it for the legalization since then ever. Ganja, Bhang, and hashish has a prolonged usage of history since 2000 BCE and has also been mentioned under the Vedas for being a medicinal plant helpful in relieving anxiety. However, the questions here remain the same, is weed legal in India?

Let’s know about what the law says upon the legality of Weed in India.

If there will be any matter relating  to smuggling of  Cannabis will amounting to death penalty under the NDPS Act, 1985. Although, every state has its law, which vary according to the trading and consumption of weed or Marijuana. The possession of such can lead to serious criminal offense and legal complexities. In some states like Uttrakhand and other hilly regions, crops like Hemp are cultivated as being a rich plant that needs less water. There are other provinces that are also thinking for the cultivation of Hemp in a very controlled manner. Cannabis is the topmost flowering part of the plant, amongst which Resin hasn’t been extracted. The involvement of it until the Formation of seeds and leaves doesn’t form a part of the cannabis crop. This is the reason for Bhang being openly consumed during religious occasions. Bhang has been excluded under the definition of Cannabis in the part of the NDPS Act.

Cannabis has been defined under NDPS act as-

Pure form of charas gets procured from the cannabis  after separating the Resin obtained from it. It includes concentrated preparation or Resin, which is also known as hashish oil. In contrast, Ganja is the uppermost flowering or fruiting top of the seed, which excludes seeds and leaves. It leads into Formation of a drink or mixture made from Ganja. The production and sale of cannabis Resin and flowers are prohibited under the NDPS Act, but it allows the use of leaves and seeds with the regulating states’ rules and power. The possession of such found within any person may result in an arrest.

The consequences of getting caught with weed or Marijuana under Indian Law

The procurement of drugs likes, weed, or Marijuana, is restricted in India and can be penalized under the NDPS Act, but it doesn’t act relevant in all the cases. The punishment of such depends on the number of drugs found from one’s possession. For instance, if a person is found of procuring and consumption with drugs shall be convicted as a drug addict. In that case, the convicted may not be subjected to a court prosecution if the convict willingly wants to emerge himself for the treatment.

There are many other law which  deals with juveniles below 18 years of age in case of consumption and possession of the drug. These include-

  • The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985
  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000
  • State drug laws

Any person involved with the export, import production, or sale activity of Cannabis could be charged under 6 months-10 years of rigorous imprisonment or fine which depends upon the commercial quantity of such. The fine can extend up to 2 lakh under section 20 of the NDPS act, 1985.

Pros and Cons for the legalization of Marijuana in India

Legalizing recreational marijuana has been seen as buoyant in tax revenues over the past years in many countries. It had contributed approx—$ 80.8million in the local economy. Research shows that legalizing pot could alone raise to $105.6 billion in federal tax revenue in the upcoming years. The setting up of dispensaries for medicinal Marijuana would also create new job opportunities to roll the country’s economic activity. An excellent example of such can be seen in California and Nevada, where legalization of such made approx. 41,000 direct and indirect job opportunities with $1.74 of labor income. It could also lead to 1 million jobs if approved nationwide. The workers from secondary industries who are not directly involved in the processing and distribution would also benefit from these opportunities. This includes software developers, financing services, construction companies, and many others. It also remains a great investment opportunity to capitalize on the growth of industry and trade on the public stock exchange like Canada’s ones.

The restriction arises here due to teens’ unmoderated use, which can make them an addict or cause severe short-term memory. Smoking a pot can lead to lung damages and impairment of cognitive ability. It will also lead to an increase in the number of automobile and workplace accidents.


Several states of the US have legalized the use of Marijuana in the form of recreational and medicinal purposes under quasi-legal status. However, the sale of the same remains a federal crime. Critics have been claiming such a ban detrimental to mental health and revenue loss for the Indian economy. The study of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment course reveals about 2.83% of Indians aged between 10-75 years involved in the consumption of Marijuana, which makes it nearly 31 million people. Recently, Sushant Singh Rajput’s death has revealed the heavy use of such drugs in Bollywood. We all are aware of the harmful causes of its consumption, but the illegality of such has grown more problems. Though keeping it away from adolescents remains the right decision, but there have been claims of no risk under moderate use. There would also be fewer pending cases relating to the following matter, which would help save more money.


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