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Pass Me the Bhang – The Fight for the Legalization of Marijuana in India

Pass Me the Bhang – The Fight for the Legalization of Marijuana in India

Visitors to the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh are left mesmerized by the stunning landscape of the region, lush greenery, cascading waterfalls, the majestic Himalayas in the backdrop. And there’s something else – marijuana!

Clusters of cannabis plants here, there and everywhere! Growing freely, with unbridled joy, without a care in the world. Farmers in many states in India grow marijuana, also called as “ganja” or the Indian help plant, within and around their properties. Marijuana is one of the most commonly grown drugs in the world, which is consumed by 125 million people each year. In India, marijuana has a rich history behind it. It is intrinsically tied to the Hindu religion and mysticism. Indians have consumed and celebrated different versions of the marijuana plant such as bhang, weed and charas (hash) for over a thousand years. Hindu religious texts mention marijuana in a positive context, and say that it helps the user attain ecstasy in the true sense of the word.

Lord Shiva – the most powerful of all Hindu Gods, loves smoking weed, according to several mythological texts. It is said that Lord Shiva once wandered off into the fields every time after an argument with his wife, Goddess Parvathi. Tired, he fell asleep under a leafy plant. Upon waking up, Shiva tasted the plant’s leaves and felt instantly rejuvenated and full of energy. He made the plant his favorite food. That plant, which captivated Lord Shiva so much, is none other than the cannabis plant.

Indians have a tradition of drinking bhang, a derivative of the cannabis plant on Holi, everybody’s favorite Hindu festival which is celebrated with joy. Bhang is very much a part of the Hindu religion and culture. Indeed, the Hindu soldiers of the past would drink bhang to give them courage just before a battle, just as soldiers in Western armies would have a whiskey.

That’s all really great, and very heartening for many of us, but here’s the problem – marijuana is still illegal in India because of an unfortunate law that was put in place in the 1980’s under pressure from the U.S. government. Back then, the U.S. was fighting the much criticized “War on Drugs” and literally forced its allies such as India to sign the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS), which made marijuana a banned substance.

Unwilling to do anything that would upset the world’s richest and most powerful country, the Indian government led by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi banned the use of marijuana. Anybody caught buying or selling marijuana was now at risk of being sent to prison. Marijuana, which was a part of the Indian culture and religion for hundreds of years, was now banned in India, because of a silly law which nobody in the India wanted, not even the government.

A lot has changed since then in the West. Marijuana is today approved for medicinal use in the U.S. and there is a growing realization that the “War on Drugs” which criminalized so many for no good reason was a mistake, to say the least. But marijuana is still banned in India, not even allowed for medicinal use. There are a lot of people that go to prison each year for the possession of the drug. The only thing thats dangerous about the drug is getting caught with it!

Legalization of marijuana would create tens of thousands of new jobs in India, where unemployment is such a big problem. In Colorado marijuana legalization has created over 10,000 new jobs.

The government in India is aware of economic and social benefits of the cannabis plant. Steps are being taken in the right direction. The government of the state of Uttarakhand has made it legal for farmers to cultivate the Indian hemp plant. This is a good move but not nearly enough of the farmers are allowed to sell their harvest to the government. Unfortunately the farmers are excluded from selling their hemp crop to private industry buyers.

There is a growing cry in the country to legalize the use of marijuana. After all, marijuana was legal in India for much of its history, except for the last 30 years. It is just not right to deny the people of India the right to something that is such a big part of their culture.

CBD and San Diego: 3 Questions

The CBD Molecule.

The CBD Molecule.

Where can I find flower high in Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD?

If you are a resident of San Diego, CA or Chula Vista, CA, a quick scan of the weedmaps.com menus from the top 3 Chula Vista, Ca, USA storefront marijuana dispensaries will yield you minimal results. You can find the highest lab tested strains reaching a benchmark high of 0.1% CBD in their flowers. It is not only important that a shop carry these high Cannabidiol (CBD) flowers for their patients, it is also important that they are quality assured and lab tested by the shop and the vendor.

Why is Cannabidiol an important component of cannabis flowers and who will gain the most benefit from these breeds of cannabis?

You can find a great discussion of cannabinoids on these two websites: Mary’s Medicinals and the CBD Project. In summary: CBD is a prime ingredient in medical cannabis flowers along with THC. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive. It has range of medical benefits which have been discovered through testing on animals. They include: suppressing seizures, reducing nausea and combating psychosis and inflammation. It has been also shown to be effective treatment against cancer/tumors, as a general anti-oxidant and finally CBD has been shown as an effective anti-depressant. To highlight the importance of this new and upcoming molecule here is a quote from the Project CBD website: “CBD has demonstrable neuroprotective and neurogenic effects, and its anti-cancer properties are currently being investigated at several academic research centers in the United States and elsewhere.”

Popular strain Pennywise, bred by TGA - Subcool right here in Southern California.

Popular strain Pennywise, bred by TGA – Subcool right here in Southern California.

How easy are these flowers to find?

CBD rich flowers are available in most areas and states where there is a medical marijuana program in place. At A Green Alternative we recognize and embrace this trend in the cannabis industry. We are continually including these lab tested flowers on our menu. Some strains in the past include “Pennywise” and “Medical Mass” which have both tested above 10% total CBD content. We currently have our house strain “Edith G”, a sativa which tested back just under 13% CBD.

As the breeders continue to develop strains that are high in this component, A Green Alternative will acquire the newest and highest quality CBD flowers.  If you are wondering where to find the best CBD flower and products available come see our selection at A Green Alternative!