THE LEGAL STATUS OF CANNABIS IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE WORLD

Introduction

Cannabis is a species of plant. The terms Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis all refer to a group of three psychoactive plants. People use the cannabis plant's dried leaves, seed oil, and other parts for recreational and medicinal purposes. One of the most widely used drugs in the world is produced by harvesting and drying the flowers of these plants. It can be pleasurable and may alleviate the symptoms of a variety of conditions, including chronic pain. Some refer to it as marijuana, while others refer to it as weed or pot. The identities of cannabis are changing as it becomes legal in more places. Cannabis is now referred to as weed by an increasing number of people. Many individuals say that it's a more accurate name. Some believe it to be more neutral than terms like "weed" or "pot," which some associate with its illicit use. Additionally, due to its racist past, the term "marijuana" is losing popularity. In India, the most common form of cannabis is bhang, which is used to make 'Thandai,' a milkshake laced with cannabis seeds and leaves that is consumed during the Hindu festivals of Holi and Shivratri, the Sikh festival of Hola Mohalla, and other festive forms.



Cannabis is typically used for its calming and sedating properties. It's also prescribed in some U.S. states to treat a number of illnesses, such as chronic pain, glaucoma, and poor appetite.

Remember that even though cannabis is a natural substance because it comes from a plant, it can still have potent effects—both good and bad.

The cannabis can be used in the following ways:

  1. vaping or smoking it

  2. brewing it as a tea eating it in the form of brownies or candies

  3. eating it raw applying it as a topical treatment

  4. taking it in the form of capsules or supplements


Some cannabis ingredients are psychoactive (alter the mind), while others are not. The potency and balance of the ingredients vary depending on how the plant is grown and processed by the manufacturer.



Is Cannabis legal in India?

When it comes to openly consuming most forms of intoxication, India is a largely conservative society. While alcohol is still frowned upon in some segments of Indian society, cannabis has been legal in the country for at least 3,000 years. Only after 1985, in response to mounting US pressure, did India pass the Narcotics and Drugs Act. The act criminalised the majority of cannabis plant derivatives. The primary law in India that addresses cannabis is the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (weed or marijuana). As per Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, Government may allow cultivation of any cannabis plant for industrial purposes only of obtaining fibre or seed or for horticultural purposes.



In India, possessing these drugs is typically regarded as a crime that can land you in hot water with the law. Therefore, marijuana is currently illegal in India. There is an exception for marijuana use, though. Bhang, a version of marijuana, is an exception. It is not only legal, but also excusable. The use of bhang and other types of cannabis is deeply embedded in Hindu scriptures and mythology on many levels. According to the Atharva Veda, cannabis is one of the five sacred plants in the world. Ayurvedic practitioners use bhang as a penicillin substitute. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva frequently consumed bhang, which is known as the nectar of the Gods.

The NDPS Act makes it illegal to even possess marijuana or other illegal drugs in India. The quantity of drugs in possession determines the punishment, not the reason for drug possession. If someone voluntarily chooses to receive de-addiction treatment after being found to be a drug addict or caught with drugs, they will not be prosecuted.



The following are the various laws that govern drug possession and use by minors, or children under the age of 18, in India:

1. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985

2. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000

3. State drug laws

The NDPS Act does not wholly prohibit the use of cannabis; instead, it permits its use for industrial, horticultural, scientific, and medical purposes with the proper state government authorization.

  1. Rajasthan and UP have official “bhang and afeem” shops that have been licensed under the state government to sell certain bhang and afeem products that have been approved by the state/central government.

  2. One of the few states in India where marijuana use is completely legal is in Odisha. People frequently can be seen smoking chillums on the street without worrying about getting in trouble with the law.

  3. Uttarakhand is India's first state to legalise commercial cannabis sativa farming. Many other hilly states are considering allowing regulated cannabis and marijuana production because it is a rich crop that utilises less water.



The legality of cannabis in other countries

1. Canada

Since 2001, cannabis has been approved for medical use in Canada. Under the Cannabis Act, cannabis was also made acceptable for recreational use in 2018. Cannabis edibles and concentrates can now be purchased legally in Canada as of 2019. Adults who are over 18 years old are therefore permitted to:

a) In public, one may possess up to 30 grams of dried or equivalent legal marijuana.

b) share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with adults

c) a provincially authorised retailer where you can purchase cannabis oil and dried or fresh cannabis

d) grow up to 4 cannabis plants per residence for personal use from authorised seeds or seedlings.

e) Make cannabis products at home, such as edibles and beverages, provided that concentrated cannabis products are not produced using organic solvents.



2. Uruguay

The South American nation became one the first countries in the world to legalise the use of cannabis for recreational purposes, in 2013. The cultivation of up to six plants at home, the establishment of growing clubs, the operation of marijuana dispensaries under state control, and the establishment of a cannabis regulatory body (Instituto de Regulación y Control del Cannabis, or IRCCA) were all made legal in Uruguay in August 2014. The government started registering growers' clubs in October 2014, and each club was given permission to grow a maximum of 99 cannabis plants annually. After a protracted delay in putting the law's retail provision into effect, three companies won a government tender process in 2017 to supply cannabis to the government, which would then distribute it to authorised pharmacies.



The socialist government enacted the new laws in an effort to combat the expanding black market for marijuana, as well as the associated violence and organised crime. Adults over the age of 18 may obtain up to 10 grams per week from their neighbourhood pharmacist thanks to this law. Originally, the law also stipulated that a gram of cannabis would cost $1. Since then, the precise price has varied, ensuring that the government maintains a competitive advantage over unlicensed vendors.

Since it is not legal in Uruguay, businesses that grow CBD must export it. Although registered pharmaceutical products with the ministry of health, CBD products are available for purchase in pharmacies. To purchase them, patients require a prescription from a physician. All of the raw materials used to make them were imported.



3. Netherlands

Since 2003, medical marijuana use has been legal in the Netherlands. A well-established framework that permits access to medicinal cannabis is the Dutch framework. It is a closed system, though. The Dutch Office of Medicinal Cannabis (BMC) has complete control over all cannabis-related activities and strictly regulates them all. This means that permission must be sought before using, importing, or selling cannabis for medical purposes. Only a few situations will result in the granting of authorizations. Only one company, Bedrocan, has been given permission to grow cannabis for medical purposes in the Netherlands so far.

A marketing authorization is necessary in order to introduce medicinal cannabis products to the market because the Dutch Medicines Act governs this industry. The medical use of the cannabis product grown by Bedrocan for medicinal purposes is permitted without the need for marketing authorization under a special access programme, which exempts it from this requirement. Violation of the Dutch Opium Act due to illegal cultivation, import, possession or promotion can be a crime and there is a risk of high criminal sanctions (imprisonment for up to twelve years or a fine). A recidivism scheme applies.



Recreational use of cannabis is openly tolerated in the Netherlands. Cultivation of five or less hemp plants at home is not prosecutable, according to the guidelines of the Dutch government. In the Netherlands, it is legal to grow industrial hemp, import it, and sell it as long as it will be used to make textiles or fiber-related seeds. European regulations stipulate that the cannabis variety must be included in the database of plant varieties and that the THC content cannot be higher than 0.2 percent. Regarding the CBD level, there are no specifications


4. South Africa

Cannabis was recently decriminalised in South Africa for a number of reasons, including the Western Cape High Court's ruling that the criminalization of it for adult consenting users' personal use was actually unconstitutional. The distinction between decriminalisation and legalisation must be understood, though, so one must exercise caution. Only adults over the age of 18 are permitted to use cannabis, and it is strictly prohibited from being consumed in public. Cannabis is still illegal to produce, process, store, possess, transport, and sell in many ways, even though personal use of it for recreational purposes is legal. A person is only allowed to possess as much as they can personally consume, which is limited by law to a total of 100g in public spaces and a maximum of 600g per person in private spaces.



Only adults over the age of eighteen are allowed to consume cannabis products in public. In public places, marijuana consumption is still illegal. It is illegal to give any form of recreational cannabis to a minor, or a person under the age of 18, and doing so is punishable by law. In conclusion, it is unlawful for an adult to use, possess, or grow cannabis in any way that goes against the legally permitted definition of recreational use. To avoid unintentionally breaking the law, it is crucial to do your research and educate yourself on the legal restrictions that apply to the purchase and use of recreational cannabis products.


Conclusion

Notwithstanding such times, many of these areas that may appear to be very hostile to cannabis are now starting to take into account the potential medical benefits the plant offers. Although there are still many of these conservative nations, young people are reading and researching marijuana's advantages. Despite the fact that they are currently conservative, experts concur that these areas have a promising future for cannabis. Cannabis is being accepted and legalised in more and more nations as people gradually become aware of its benefits.



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1. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cannabis-marijuana-and-cannabinoids-what-you-need-to-know

2. https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-cannabis#components

3. https://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A1985-61.pdf

4. https://blog.ipleaders.in/is-weed-legal-in-india/

5. https://www.myadvo.in/blog/is-weed-or-marijuana-legal-in-india/

6. https://www.firstpost.com/health/medicinal-cannabis-what-it-is-its-legal-status-in-india-and-everything-you-need-to-know-10354991.html

7. https://cannavigia.com/cannabis-country-report-uruguay-how-to-legally-grow-and-obtain-cannabis

8.https://cms.law/en/int/expert-guides/cms-expert-guide-to-a-legal-roadmap-to-cannabis/netherlands



This article is written by Priyal Shah of University of Mumbai.

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