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Legal Status of Medical Cannabis in India

Legal Status of Medical Cannabis in India

Over the years, medical marijuana (cannabis), derived from the leaves of the Cannabis sativa plant, has been subjected to various controversies in terms of both its medical use as prescribed medicine and its place in public health policy. Today, the medical use of this illicit recreational drug has re-emerged as a timely, albeit polarizing, issue for clinical practitioners P&T committee members and the public.

While medical marijuana can be purchased using a prescription worldwide, India still lacks the proper legal backing for the use of medical cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Cannabis use is not entirely banned in India as it has medical and scientific use, which is allowed under the law; however, all the legal aspects regarding the use of medical cannabis remain to be legalized.

Also Read: Medical Cannabis (For Patients)

Various medical companies have approached the central government of India to frame laws and rules permitting and regulating the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The government of India has assured that they would adopt a balanced approach on cannabis by empowering the State governments to control, permit, and regulate the cultivation of any cannabis plant, possession, transport, production, import inter-state, export inter-state, manufacture, sale, purchase, and consumption of cannabis for medical, scientific and industrial purposes.

As of now, the NDPS (National Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act bans the use of resin and flowers of the cannabis plant, which is crushed and put into pipes for addiction, whereas hemp plants or seeds of the cannabis plant or the leaves are exempted from the ban. Since these plant parts contain cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, the main psychoactive substances, they lay the grounds for legal loopholes.

Studies have reported the various medical benefits of cannabis. It helps treat cancer, prevent cancer, spread cancer, reduce depression and anxiety, improve sleep, and manage cancer-related pains.

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  1. Karki P, Rangaswamy M. A Review of Historical Context and Current Research on Cannabis Use in India. Indian J Psychol Med. 2023 Mar;45(2):105-116. doi: 10.1177/02537176221109272. Epub 2022 Aug 15. PMID: 36925496; PMCID: PMC10011848.
  2. Nayak P, Pantvaidya G, Ranganathan P, Jiwnani S, Joshi S, Gogtay NJ. Clinical studies with Cannabis in India - A need for guidelines for the investigators and ethics committees. Perspect Clin Res. 2023 Jul-Sep;14(3):146-151. doi: 10.4103/picr.picr_159_22. Epub 2023 Jun 26. PMID: 37554245; PMCID: PMC10405537.
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