There has been a slew of news reports recently about a number of Bollywood personalities being hauled up by the authorities for using or having narcotics in their possession.
In several cases the amounts of the drugs involved, such as marijuana, were insignificant, being no more than a few grams. But that’s no excuse in the eyes of the law as administered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, which prohibits the production, possession, purchasing, or consumption of banned products such as cannabis sativa in its various forms, like marijuana, hashish, or hash, ganja, charas, and bhang, all of which are less addictive than nicotine or liquor, both of which are legal.
Till the mid-1980s such drugs were not banned in India. In Calcutta, and elsewhere, government licensed ganja shops sold cannabis, noted for its analgesic properties, for medicinal purposes.
A number of my friends often smoked marijuana, or pot, or hash. Some put it into cookies, or other sweets. I smoked pot once, but while it made my mind very lucid, I found it difficult to communicate my thoughts to others, so I never tried it again.
None of the people I knew who used it got addicted to cannabis or went on to experiment with ‘harder’ drugs, like heroin, a derivative of morphine, an opiate derived from poppies and used as a pain-killer.
In 1985, reportedly at the instance of the US which was facing an increasing drug problem involving heroin and cocaine, India, as a suspected source of supply, banned all narcotics, including cannabis.
One of the results has been that the use of laboratory-made drugs like smack and crack, which are dangerously addictive, is rife among young people in Punjab, and other parts of the country. Ironically, America which prompted India to ban cannabis has now legalised the personal use of marijuana in some states, like California.
From Shiva bhakts smoking charas to bhang golis during Holi, cannabis in its many avatars has long been a part of Indian tradition. Maybe it’s time we rethought our US-initiated ban on the drug and decriminalised it.
We might even commemorate such a repeal with a modified reprise of a popular Bollywood song: Hum us desh keh vasi hain/ Jish desh meh ganja legal hai.
This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.
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