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Cannabis in India: is the country on the precipice of a new era of treatment?

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India’s relationship with cannabis dates back to c. 2000 BC when it was described by religious scholars in the ancient ‘Vedas’ texts as ‘one of the five sacred plants’. Despite the country’s long history of cannabis use, the plant is still illegal except for in government-authorised premises that produce and sell bhang (which can be either ground cannabis balls or a drink made by mixing cannabis in milk), or for research and medicinal purposes.

In this article, we summarise the different verticals of the cannabis industry, before discussing the regulation of cannabis in India, and whether it should be legalised.

What is cannabis?

Cannabis refers to a group of three plants with psychoactive properties, known as cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, and cannabis ruderalis. The plant contains more than 120 components known as cannabinoids. The most understood cannabinoids found in a cannabis plant are cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC). THC is a controlled substance and has psychotropic ingredients in it which gives the user a ‘high’. CBD is non-intoxicating and has a number of lawful uses including for medicine, beauty products, furniture and fuel. Marijuana and hemp are both varieties of the cannabis plant, but are different in a number of ways. Most significantly, while marijuana can contain up to 30% THC, hemp contains much less (the threshold being set on a country-by-country basis).

The cannabis industry

The legal cannabis industry (comprising medical cannabis, recreational cannabis, pharma products incorporating specific cannabinoids, and the ‘wellness’ industry) is currently one of the fastest growing industries in the world. According to a report by Grand View Research Inc., the global legal marijuana market is predicted to reach USD $146.4 billion by the end of 2025. For India, with a history of cannabis use in traditional Indian medicine (notably pain management), a population of approximately 1.4 billion, and a growing middle-class, the potential market for cannabis products is huge.

Medicinal cannabis is one of the fastest emerging markets globally. The key focus for the medical cannabis industry is the research and development of new and existing products, technologies for cultivation, extraction and manufacturing, delivery mechanisms, genetic composition of cannabis and combinations of cannabinoids, and ultimately research and trials regarding the efficacy and safety of medical cannabis for treatment of particular conditions or illnesses. Clinical trials are the most common method used to assess the safety and efficacy of a new drug and regulatory bodies use their results to decide whether a new product can be launched in their jurisdiction. To date, the lack of global clinical trial evidence is one of the main barriers to widespread adoption of cannabis by prescribing clinicians. This is true in India. Although the Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM) has been granted permission by the government to grow cannabis for medical purposes in collaboration with the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, regulatory approval is still being sought to proceed with the trials.

A number of promising Indian cannabis start-ups have arisen in recent years, some of whom are collaborating in order to grow in the domestic market. These start-ups are generally focusing on medicines, cosmetics, textiles, accessories and foods.

Regulatory framework

Cannabis is misunderstood legally and industrially in India. Under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985, trade and consumption of both cannabis resin (charas) and the bud (ganja), are illegal and anyone found with them could be imprisoned for up to 20 years. There is also a strict ban on both marijuana and hemp production in India. Although some powers are given to the state government to grant licenses to cultivate cannabis under certain circumstances (such as for research and medicinal use), relatively few research organisations have obtained them. In fact, only the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand regions, which are both in northern India, have received hemp cultivation licences.

The Indian cannabis market has gathered significant attention recently, with various activists/NGOs filing court petitions demanding legalisation of cannabis. They argue that the medicinal benefits of cannabis are hard to ignore, and the ideal climatic conditions for cannabis cultivation have the potential to boost the Indian economy and create millions of jobs. One of these NGOs is the Great Legalisation Movement (GLM), which is working to legalise the use of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes in India. In the summer of 2019, the Delhi High Court admitted a writ petition filed by GLM seeking decriminalisation of cannabis under the NDPS. The next date in the petition is 5 February 2020.

Madhya Pradesh, the second largest state in India, decided to legalise the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes in November 2019. As one of the poorest states in the country, it is hoped that the legalisation will attract new businesses to the fore.

Comparison with other countries

The deregulation of cannabis for medical purposes has led to significant recent interest and investment in the medical cannabis market in the UK and Europe. Germany legalised cannabis for medical use in 2017, which seems to have influenced other EU member states. Portugal, Denmark, Poland and the UK have now changed their regulations concerning medical cannabis. In November 2019, two cannabis-based medicines used to treat epilepsy and multiple sclerosis were approved for use by the NHS in England.

Canada, Uruguay and eleven states in the US have legalised the production, manufacture, export, import distribution, trade and possession of cannabis exclusively for medical and scientific purposes. Luxembourg, who have already legalised cannabis for medicinal purposes, wish to relax their laws further to become the first European country to legalise cannabis production and consumption.

Conclusion

Cannabis laws in India are outdated and require long-awaited reconsideration. Although legalisation is still some way off, the rising number of cannabis and hemp start-up companies, and the growing popular support for the plant’s legalisation, is encouraging. Considering the medical and economic reasons in favour of legalising cannabis, it may not be long before the Indian government unlock the full potential that legalisation would bring.

This article was taken from the website hilldickinson.com

Refer to original article :

https://www.hilldickinson.com/insights/articles/cannabis-india-country-precipice-new-era-treatment

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Telemedicine in cannabis

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telemedicine in cannabis

As far fetched these terms might sound together, the reality is shifting. While cannabis legalisation policies still remain a hindrance, many places across the world are gradually seeing cannabis being legalised. As both telemedicine and cannabis are rather contemporary subjects, it remains to be seen the evolution of telemedicine in cannabis

Telemedicine refers to the provision of remote clinical services, via real-time two-way communication between the patient and the healthcare provider, using electronic audio and visual means. In layman’s language, it is online appointment and treatment of the disease of a patient by a doctor.

Medicinal cannabis as well as telemedicine, merge of these relatively new concepts, has been done, as their evolution has been happening on a parallel note. Having said that, telemedicine in cannabis has a lot of scope, that is yet to be studied and explored. In this article, we look at few of the results that have been arrived at, to gain some insight into this relatively new fusion of the concepts.

Telemedicine in India

In a country like India, where 65 percent of the population is rural, telemedicine has proved to be an extremely effective and efficient method of treating people from a distance, as rural India has been bereaved of good health facilities providing a scope for improvement of the telemedicine sector.

In a developing country like India, it is the need of the hour that the new innovations made in the health and wellness sector, reaches to the poor in India, as they need it the most.

Ayushman Bharat Scheme, a government infused finance scheme for the health sector in India, has directed a significant amount of its funds for building infrastructure for the growth of telemedicine in India. It remains to be seen, how patients from the rural areas, react to this modern way of treatment.    

Cannabis and telemedicine: A partnership

The link between telemedicine and medicinal cannabis is coming up with medicinal cannabis emerging as a potential therapy for nicotine, alcohol and opioid use disorders. And since these disorders are primarily associated with psychotherapy, giving it over online is convenient.

Studies have revealed that amongst patients availing treatment using telemedicine, patients with drug related disorders have the highest patient satisfaction. Since telemedicine is a cross platform, cross devices method of treatment, the treatment is possible with an immediate effect, across long distances.

Although telemedicine in cannabis, has not yet experienced a full fledged growth, mainly due to the limitations imposed on policies based on both telemedicine as well as cannabis. Setting up a telemedicine appointment as well as prescribing medicinal cannabis, both require a validated license. Doctors not only need to meet the clinical and legal guidelines for each program, they also need to follow their state medical board’s recommendations on how to mix the two. The future of telemedicine in cannabis is hinged on how these policies will be eased in the future. 

Word from Hempstreet

As you would have understood about telemedicine in cannabis through this article, it is a topic that is on the path of experimentation and research. In an initial stage like this, it is very important that while purchasing from a cannabis dispensary, make sure you have a full proof prescription after consultation, including the dosage and the form of medicinal cannabis in which it should be consumed, be it CBD oil, cannabis tinctures, etc. In future, with systematic guidelines put in place, let us hope that  everyone can avail this opportunity and benefit from the same. 

References

https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Telemedicine.aspx

https://blog.evisit.com/medical-marijuana-telemedicine-perfect-partnership

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0740547218304288

https://health.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/health-it/outlook-2019-the-future-of-telemedicine-in india/67366188#:~:text=In%202018%2C%20telemedicine%20has%20expanded,next%20frontier%20in%20the%20healthcare.

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Health benefits offered by THC

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Health Benefits of THC

THC, or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of the cannabinoids found in cannabis. THC, has been fighting a long drawn battle against its bad reputation. While it is infamous for being the component in cannabis that makes one “high”, its benefits have long been sidelined. Medicinal cannabis is made up of over 500 chemical compounds ranging from cannabinoids, terpenoids, etc. to fatty acids. From amongst the 61 cannabinoids that have been identified, THC happens to be one of the cannabinoids that is significantly studied, along with CBD, or cannabidiol. Although there is no denying that THC is psychoactive, this article will help you understand the health benefits offered by THC. With cannabis legalisation surfacing as an obstacle every now and then, it is interesting to see how the benefits of THC have managed to reach users in certain parts of the world.

THC composition

THC has the chemical formula C21H3oO, with a molecular mass of 314.464 g/mol. While the chemical composition does not differ much from CBD, the arrangement of atoms within THC is different from that of CBD.

These cannabinoids function in a similar manner like that of endocannabinoids, that are produced by our own body. This collateral property of cannabinoids allow them to attach to the receptors present in the body and produce the effect.

Benefits of THC

THC is the cannabinoid responsible for protecting the plants from insects and pests. Historical evidence suggests that THC metabolites were found inside a tomb in Israel, where it was used as an aid by a women for giving birth. Since then, studies have suggested the medicinal use of THC for various diseases. While CBD remains to be the holding ground for medicinal cannabis, CBD without THC cannot produce the desired effect. Let us look at few of the health benefits offered by THC.

  • Anti-inflammatory: This condition is associated as a symptom with a whole range of diseases, from arthritis and asthma to pain caused due to chemotherapy. THC has been effective as an aid for each of these diseases, as THC has successfully managed to combat the condition of inflammation.
  • Chronic Pain relief: THC has potential uses in treating and alleviating chronic pain. Be it mental pain or physical, anxiety or broken ankle, THC always comes to the rescue and provides a ‘feel-good’ feeling. It is also competent for treatment of muscle spasticity, i.e, easing the pain of spasms in multiple sclerosis.
  • Glaucoma: While there have been research results that have pointed out the effect of THC, as an aid for the treatment of glaucoma, any substantial proof is yet to be established.
  • Low appetite: THC is also responsible for bringing back appetites – a crucial part of healing for those living with HIV and the side effects of cancer therapy.
  • Insomnia: THC has proven to be a potent sleeping aid, with little to no side effects. Results reflect that THC has been able to refurbish a person’s sleep cycle due to its analgesic and anti-anxiety properties that provides the user an enhanced and stree-free sleep. This is mainly due to the property of THC which reduces the amount of REM sleep, or sleep full of dreams and nightmares. This has also made THC particularly useful for PTSD patients.
  • Anti oxidant & Anti convulsant: As a powerful anti oxidant, THC has proven efficacious in protecting the skin. THC’s anticonvulsant properties, allows it be a part of almost all medicines that are used to cure seizures.

Ways to take THC for health benefits

THC can be taken in many ways, however the best one for the health are through; Cannabis Oil, Cannabis tinctures, Cannabis edibles and Cannabis capsules.

Takeaway

Through the article, we looked at various health benefits offered by THC. However, before consuming it is advised to consider the possibility of side effects as well as the consultation of a doctor or physician. Seek for reliable sources of information and scientific evidence and decide upon the dosage, before purchasing medications from the cannabis dispensary.  

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/medical-marijuana/benefits-of-marijuana

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What are cannabis terpenes?

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What are cannabis terpenes?

Certain elements of cannabis are highly necessary for an enhanced experience and a better understanding of the kind one consumes. A well-known quality of cannabis is that it affects the mind and behavior when consumed. The main compound that produces such psychoactive effects on individuals is THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Extensive research has been done on this compound. However, there exist a large number of other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenoids in medicinal marijuana that play an important role in helping understand cannabis and its effects. Not a lot of people know about the terpenes present in cannabis. Through this article, we would understand what are cannabis terpenes, and why they matter.

Introduction to terpenes

Are you wondering what terpenes are? Well, you are already familiar with them! Terpenes are the aromatic organic hydrocarbons that are found in a number of plants. The cannabis plant has a variety of compounds and chemicals, and about 140 of them can be classified as terpenes. Often the terms terpene and terpenoid are used synonymously, despite them having different meanings. The difference between the two is that terpenoids are terpenes that are denatured due to chemical modification or oxidization, while terpenes are hydrocarbons.

Terpenes are produced inside the glandular trichomes of the secretory cells of cannabis, with the help of exposure to light. In simple words, they are the aromatic oils that cause different cannabis plants to have distinctive flavors such as: citrus, mint, pine, berry, etc. In cannabis plants, terpenes act as a repellant for predators, and help lure pollinators. Factors such as the climate, age, fertilizers, soil, and exposure to light, influence the development of terpenes in plants. Terpenes are important elements that help distinguish the effects of different cannabis strains.

Different terpenes serve different purposes, for instance, certain terpenes might have relaxing and calming effects on individuals, while some might help them focus properly. Myrcene, one of the known terpenes is present in strains such as Blue Dream and Granddaddy Purple, and helps users relax. Limonene, pinene, linalool, caryophyllene, humulene, etc. are some other known terpenes. Although basic information about terpenes is available, the subject needs more research.

Why are terpenes important?

Terpenes are important for a number of reasons, some of which are discussed below.

  • Hightened effects: A paper published in 2011 explored the way in which cannabinoids and terpenes work together in order to boost the effects of each other in our bodies’ endocannabinoid system or the ECS. Therefore, terpenes can help increase or decrease the effects of CBD, THC and other compounds in the body. Terpenes also affect the high and lead to the entourage effect on individuals. For instance, myrcene helps increase the effects of THC.
  • Medical benefits: Terpenes have certain medical benefits. Myrcene helps those struggling with insomnia and fatigue, and acts as a sedative. It is also anti-inflammatory, and helps alleviate pain. Another terpene called Limonene has energizing effects on people, and acts as an anti-depressant. It is also used in aromatherapy.
  • Taste and Flavor: Terpenes help accentuate the natural flavor of cannabis and vape oils. They help us experience the citrusy, the pine, the berry, and the mint aroma. They are used in essential oils as well.

Word from HempStreet

The information provided above helps one understand what terpenes are and the effects they have on consumption. Terpenes enrich the cannabis plants as well as other plants. They play an important role in the survival of multiple plant species. However, due to minimal research, a lot of its benefits remain unknown. More research is needed in the field, in order to uncover the potential medicinal and therapeutic benefits of terpenes.

References:

www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/what-are-terpenes#summary

www.medicaljane.com/category/cannabis-classroom/terpenes/#related-articles

www.heylocannabis.com/post/what-are-terpenes

www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/terpenes-the-flavors-of-cannabis-aromatherapy

www.analyticalcannabis.com/articles/the-difference-between-cannabinoids-and-terpenes-311502

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