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The Demand for Hemp based products, nutrition powders, oils, and other personal care items has been at an all-time high as entrepreneurs and startups work to establish Hemp as a Cultural Phenomenon. The use, selling, and cultivation of cannabis have all been subject to considerable confusion and uncertainty until a few years ago. However, the future appears promising, with authorities like the FSSAI taking the appropriate steps to control the Hemp business. So, Let’s Find out Is Hemp Legal in India?
History of Hemp in India
The use of Cannabis in India dates back to at least 2000 BCE. Hemp is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world, with a Socioeconomic history dating back 50,000 years. Common names for cannabis preparations in Indian Culture include Charas (Resin), Ganja (Glower) and Bhang (Seeds and Leaves).
Bhang-based Indian Drinks such as Lassi and Thandai are among the most popular legal uses. Several religious Indian texts, such as Atharvaveda and Shiv Purana, mention Cannabis (Bhang). Bhang is frequently associated with Lord Shiva, who is believed to have discovered and consumed it voraciously. This is one of the critical factors in its widespread acceptance by the general public in India. Even the Sushruta Samhita refers to bhang as a medicinal herb.
In colonial India, however, things changed. The British Parliament passed a law imposing a tax on bhang, ganja, and charas in 1798. They claimed that the goal of the tax was to curtail cannabis use for the sake of the local’s well-being and sanity.
Science Behind Hemp as a Psychoactive Drug
The two primary compounds in Cannabis are Cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These chemicals interact with various receptor systems in our bodies and have varying effects on individuals. They interact with the neuroreceptors in your ECS, which transmits signals between cells to help control your immune system, movement, and mood. Your brain responds psychologically to THC, which has “Psychotropic” effects. Think about enjoyment, ecstasy, and relaxation. The non-psychoactive component, CBD, impacts your body. Consider hunger, weariness, and discomfort. Therefore, of the two, THC is the one that can get you “high” in the traditional sense and requires regulation.
Regulators from all around the world have made an effort to control these elements. The Uttarakhand Drug regulator in India sets a 0.3% maximum THC level for production.
Is Hemp Legal in India? FSSAI Regulations Surrounding Hemp
The FSSAI’s notification in November 2021, allowing the sale of Hemp Seed Oil, and flour as food, proved to be a significant turning point for the Indian hemp business. The NDPS Act of 1985 must be complied with for cannabis to be grown. Additionally, the FSSAI notification defines limits for the amounts of THC, CBD, free fatty acids, moisture, and fat in hemp products. Likewise, CBD cannot be used to support any nutrient or health claims.
As per regulations by The Gazette, “Hemp seed means the hulled, non-viable seeds obtained from cannabis Sativa/other indigenous cannabis species. The cultivation of cannabis species for hemp seeds in India shall comply with NDPS Act, 1985 and rules made thereunder.”
Hemp Industry and Hemp’s Legal Status in India
The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS), 1985 establishes the legal framework for Cannabis and Cannabis-Related Goods in India. The Act expressly forbids the sale and cultivation of Cannabis flowers but permits using seeds and leaves. States have the authority to create cannabis legislation in addition to the NDPS Act. States are authorized to license and regulate “the Cultivation of any Cannabis Plant, production, manufacture, possession, transport, import inter-State, export inter-State, sale, purchase, consumption or use of Cannabis (excluding Charas)” under the Act.
The Hemp Era in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand became the first State in the nation to permit commercial Hemp Farming. It was done because the Government believed that Hemp was a great source of fine fibre and a variety of therapeutic and dietary items. In 2018, the state government gave the Indian Industrial Hemp Association permission to cultivate the fibre over 1,000 hectares as part of a Pilot Programme.
Following this, P.C. Sharma, the law minister for Madhya Pradesh, announced on November 20, 2019, that the State was considering legalizing cannabis cultivation for medical and commercial uses. On February 21, 2020, Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh notified the State Assembly that his administration was considering legalizing cannabis cultivation for medical and industrial uses. Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are other states that have legalized Hemp. Even though a few states have legislation governing hemp farming, this is a solid beginning.
In 60% of the Country’s districts, cannabis is naturally grown in the wild. Additionally, India’s history and culture are intertwined with Hemp. Hemp has the potential to change the game for a nation that has been dealing with a water crisis and struggling farmers. Because of our climate’s favourable conditions for hemp development, India may be setting the pace in the world.
As more states begin to permit Cannabis growing for restricted uses, the Acceptance of Cannabis, even if only for specific services, is steadily gaining ground. The introduction of hemp regulations by the FSSAI will spark further interest, fueling the expansion of the Indian Hemp Market. Industry predictions state that Hemp will soon reach ground-breaking potential.