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.
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.
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
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Hemp in India
Hemp, also known as industrial cannabis, has a long standing relationship with India and it’s culture. From it’s mention in the ancient religious texts, the Vedas as one of the five sacred plants to it being the front runner in the legalisation movement till date, hemp has been a part of India’s history. One of the two primary species of cannabis- cannabis indica, traces the origin of it’s name to India. Hemp as a raw material can contribute in the production of 25,000 products, ranging from products in industries such as gas and oil, to textiles and bodycare.
With Himalayas and the state of Uttarakhand being a treasure trove of hemp and all other states in India betting on the quality of their respective hemp production, India is home to some of the best quality of hemp in the world. However, hemp in India is still not officially legal due to the stigmatization attached to the crop. The controversies revolving around it linking it to the controversial amount of THC and marijuana, have hindered its business growth, more than one can imagine.
Hemp in Indian states
Uttarakhand being the first Indian state to have secured the rights for industrial hemp cultivation in 2018, it was a marked victory in this long drawn battle of hemp legalisation. The state government of Uttarakhand also granted license to Indian Industrial Hemp Assosciation(IIHA) to establish and operate their non-profit organisation. Apart from the products that can be made using hemp, cultivation of industrial hemp is extremely eco friendly. It requires very little to no use of pesticides. Since India lies in the tropical region, temperature and environmental conditions of India are also suitable for hemp cultivation.
While the direct benefits of hemp cultivation will be extended towards poor famers, who otherwise had to spend a huge amount of money for the timely cultivation of the crop, the GDP share of agriculture sector will also see a rise. Hemp, being a stronger and more absorbent fibre than cotton, sustainable agriculture of hemp will take India a long way, who in fact is looking to diversify from its conventional methods of farming.
Followed by Uttarakhand, are states like Madhya Pradesh and Manipur, where ministers have come out stating the need for legalisation of cultivation of hemp. While Madhya Pradesh’s law minister had already made an announcement about allowing the cultivation of hemp for medical and industrial purposes, there has been no progress made following it. Chief Minister of Manipur on the other hand has taken a firm decision regarding this issue and mentioned that it is very important for the state to utilise it’s natural resources efficiently and use the revenue generated for the development of the state.
Growth map of hemp market
With the first cannabis clinic of India, Vedi Herbals, opening in Bangalore in February, 2020, established by an Odisha based startup HempCann Solutions, it is a win for the cannabis legalisation movement. With Vedi Herbals having been granted a pan India license, it remains to be seen how this would pave way for expansion of hemp market in India.
Apart from the newbie HempCann solutions, there are other companies such as Bombay Hemp Company(BoHeCo), Indian Hemp and Co., B.E.Hemp, that have somehow managed to sustain the idea of medicinal and industrial hemp thriving in India.
HempStreet, established in 2019, is another newbie in the hemp market and is India’s first research to retail venture in the ayurvedic cannabis sector. Having received a funding of 1 million dollars from US based pharmatech, Pharmacon Holdings and Romain Barberis, HempStreet primarily focuses on medicinal hemp and aims to source hemp based painkillers in the hemp market. These facts paint a picture of that of how hemp in India, as a market would experience a notable shift in the coming years.
Despite of being illegal, a study conducted by All India Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS) in 2019 reported that there are 7.2 million consumers of industrial hemp within that year. This implies that hemp in India, already has an established consumer base. The need of the hour, is to lend wings to this miraculously healing and industrial crop, such that it’s benefits reach the less privileged and provide relief to those who need it.
Does CBD help or hinder sleep
Who doesn’t like a good night sleep? It is quite difficult for one to function without sleep in today’s stressful, fast- paced world. However, these are the very factors that often lead to people not getting enough sleep. For conditions like sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, etc. people are often prescribed over the counter medicines for instant relief. These medications; however, may have serious side effects on the patients. Due to this, many consumers try to explore medical cannabis as a potential sleep aid. Through this article, we would discuss whether Cannabis helps or hinders sleep.
CBD has become popular in the medical field, wherein, individuals are consuming it to treat a number of ailments, including insomnia. Due to this sudden increase in its popularity, a number of ongoing clinical and preclinical studies are trying to find whether CBD can help with various disorders. However, there are limited studies are centered on CBD and sleep.
A recent Consumer Reports survey that was conducted on CBD reported that 10% of its respondents were consuming CBD as a sleep aid. Most of them assured that it worked, however, the evidence is anecdotal. It is important for controlled studies to be conducted in order to gain some conclusive evidence about whether CBD really induces sleep.
High CBD strains often contain a terpene called myrcene. This terpene is said to have sedating effects. Therefore, myrcene has been used as a sleep aid since centuries. However, myrcene is found in several other plants apart from cannabis, such as hops. Therefore, researchers are unsure whether it is the myrcene in the CBD rich strains that helps people sleep or whether it is CBD itself. However, it can be noted that CBD is not generally consumed in a vaporized form, and therefore, does not contain much myrcene.
Another research conducted in 2017 extensive literature review titled: Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature, studies the effects of CBD in conjunction with THC on sleep. It concluded that both can be used as sleep aids.
Consuming multiple cannabinoids at the same time might have mixed effects. THC has certain sedative-like effects on individuals. It has multiple properties that help individuals sleep, for instance, it helps people feel comfortable while being able to remain still. This is called catalepsy. CBD, on the other hand, does not alter the consciousness of individuals like THC. As a result, it is difficult to ascertain whether CBD alone can act as a sleep aid.
A Preliminary study showed that CBD doses ranging from 75 to 300 mg helped patients sleep. In one particular case, high dose CBD also helped a PTSD patient. Since CBD does not have any psychedelic properties, it is safe to consume higher doses of it for optimum effects. A study held in 2018 administered doses of 1500, 3000, and 6000 mg to healthy subjects for six days. It concluded that CBD was safe to be consumed at higher dosages.
Through the aforementioned argument, it can be assessed whether CBD helps or hinders sleep. It should be noted that CBD’s effect on sleep requires a great deal of further research. Despite the fact that CBD seems to help patients sleep, its effects are subjective and differ from person to person. It is a great alternative for those who wish to use a product with no side-effects. Additionally, CBD is worth exploring for those who want to avail the benefit of marijuana without the psychedelic effects of THC. If you have trouble sleeping, you can consult your medical practitioner before using CBD for your condition. We strongly advise against self-medication.
Hemp seed: An Ayurvedic medication
With most of the chaos around hemp being caluminous, have you ever tried to look beyond it? Well, if you haven’t, it’s your time now. Hemp, as a whole plant, is a gift of nature, that has been evaded for way too long now. First discovered in the foothills of Himalayas in India, hemp, also finds its mention in the vedas as one of the five sacred plants ‘bhang’. Since then, the only issue that has thwarted the reach of hemp in each household in the country, is the stigma that has latched onto it.
Weeding out this stigma would not be very hard, once its potential users are made aware of its benefits- be it on the health front or on the industrial front. Each part of hemp plant– seeds, stalk, fibre, flower- have incontestable benefits, which when unveiled would place it as a frontrunner for raw material, in almost every sector.
This article however, would primarily talk about hemp seeds, which lie at the heart of the plant. Hemp seeds in India have been a part of Ayurvedic medication for the good.
Let us explore how their role are interwoven and shed light upon Hemp seed: An Ayurvedic medication.
Hemp seeds and nutrition
Hemp seeds, having been a part of India’s history, is a legacy of its own, handed down over to the humankind by the Himalayas. Since then, from being used in the ropes to tie cattle to being used to cure ailments, hemp seeds have done it all.
Hemp is essentially a part of one of the eight clinical domains of Ayurveda, i.e, the Rasayana Tantra( the knowledge of rejuvenation). A great source of protein, the nutritional properties of hemp seeds have made this possible and thus, it is highly valued by the human society. The nutritional properties are as follows:
- Improve immunity
- Smoothens muscle functions
- Boosts hormonal balance
- Aids cardiovascular health
- Helps in weight loss
In addition to the above properties, hemp oil obtained from hemp seeds, also called hemp seeds oil, is rich in Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Vitamine B1 and Vitamine B2, essential fatty acids as well as minerals. Apart from being very effective as a medicinal aid, hemp seeds oil also works wonders for skin and hair.
In the circle of Ayurvedic medication, hemp seeds and hemp seeds oil are particularly beneficial for Vata(meaning, space and air) dosha and also helps in balancing the Pita(meaning, fire and water) dosha. These doshas, according to Ayurvedic teaching, are the different types of energies that lay the foundation of life. Hemp seeds, as Ayurveda believes, despite having no THC content, has tamasic(sedative) qualities, which make you feel rejuvenated, by releasing serotonin and inducing deep sleep. Hemp seeds are also nutritionally more efficient than flax and chia seeds. Hemp seeds, an ayurvedic medication, has more to it than nutritional properties.
Hemp seeds in industry
Industrial hemp, has contributed in an conducive way to diverse sectors such as- fabric or clothing, construction, bodycare products, biofuel, paper, amongst many others. Since agriculture of hemp plants requires
- Negligible amount of pesticides
- Is capable of returning the essential nutrients to the soil
- Can be harvested within 3 months
- Consumes minimal amount of water,
It is extremely environment friendly. As the top producer of biomass in the world and competent of producing the strongest fibre, hemp seeds is extremely popular in the industrial world.
Ways of intake of hemp seeds
Few common ways being:
- Blend to make hemp seed milk
- Eat raw as snack
- Powder it to consume as condiment
- Sprinkle on top of dishes
- Make a smoothie by adding few more ingredients
You can also innovate different ways of inculcating it into your diet and adding flavor. You can also choose from different type of hemp seeds available depending on the flavor, although the natural flavour is mostly nutty in taste.
Hemp seeds: an Ayurvedic medication, could also cause mild diarrhoea or inhibit platelet formation. Like everything in this world, these are amongst the very few side effects of hemp seeds. Hence, it is advisable to consult your doctor before beginning to consume it on a regular basis or including it in your medication. Although when it comes products constituting hemp seeds oil for hair and skin available in the market, those are scientifically proven. Thus, do not give a second thought before purchasing those products because what’s better than nature’s gifts for well being of humankind.
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