Updated on April 18, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
India has recently joined the many countries that support medical cannabis research, so patients looking for an alternative to harmful prescriptions now have a safer option. But, every nation handles medical cannabis differently when they legalize it.
At the time of writing, India does not have a medical marijuana program. In fact, they don’t have any legalized cannabis medicine for patients to use. Indian researchers are currently investigating the medical use of cannabis, so a program has not been established yet.
If marijuana medicine becomes approved for patient use, India may or may not establish an official program for it. While some countries require you to register for a program, others treat cannabis like any other prescription. Keep an eye on marijuana news and updates from India to see how they address medicinal cannabis.
Although India currently considers marijuana use illegal, it has a rich history in the country. The Atharva Veda, a notable Hindu script, had one of the world’s first mentions of smoking cannabis. However, in 1985, India outlawed marijuana in response to America’s “War on Drugs.” The NDPS act categorized it as a hard drug like opiates and implemented harsh penalties.
In recent years, India has shown promise of reversing this policy. In 2017, the Bombay Hemp Company got authorization to research cannabis for medical purposes. Additionally, Member of Parliament Dr. Dharamvira Gandhi proposed a bill to legalize medical marijuana in general.
The NDPS Act explicitly bans both marijuana possession and cultivation, except when done for scientific research. So, anyone who isn’t a scientific researcher can’t grow or possess cannabis legally. If Gandhi’s proposed bill passes, there could also be exceptions for medical marijuana patients who have permission.
During the last two decades, telemedicine has given Indian citizens in rural areas access to critical healthcare options. Both government and private organizations have worked hard to expand the country’s telemedicine. Patients who use telemedicine can take advantage of both general healthcare and specialty consultations. Services in India include telepsychiatry, teleradiology and telepathology.
Since India still doesn’t allow the medical use of marijuana, they don’t have any guidelines for determining qualified patients. If the country passes a medicinal cannabis bill, they will likely approve medicine for patients dealing with commonly researched conditions like chronic pain, cancer and others.
If India establishes a medical marijuana program, they may or may not require patients to sign up for a card. Some countries have a registration process for a license that patients must have in addition to a recommendation. Meanwhile, others just ask for a prescription.
Despite the country not having an official medical cannabis program, here’s what we know about India’s involvement with marijuana so far:
The NDPS enforces strict sanctions against folks who conduct any marijuana-related activities in India — prison sentences can range anywhere from 10 to 20 years. Meanwhile, fines can go up to one lakh rupees for regular quantities of cannabis, and between one and two lakh for commercial amounts.
As you can see, India is just getting started with legal medical cannabis. During this exciting period, you want to follow every new event that happens during this marijuana revolution. Our blog not only covers United States marijuana news, but also international reporting.