If you are confused by the uproar about weed in the media, this might clear some things out for you. You might’ve even asked yourself this before- How is weed illegal but bhang isn’t? Well, I am gonna try and answer that.
In India, the use of cannabis dates back to the ‘Vedic’ eras and has been part of religious festivals and celebrations for millennia.
According to Vice, the first attempts to criminalise cannabis in India started in the 1900s by the then British government. But until the late 1980s, cannabis and opium were sold in government-run shops by British East India Company.
Weed had never been a major topic of conversation till the 60s, when American media and its government started actively campaigning to criminalise anything related to marijuana globally. Then the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, an international treaty under the influence of the US paired cannabis along with other hard drugs and termed it dangerous.
But in the 80s, under then US President Ronald Reagan, America was struggling with drug problems, and the media had successfully swayed the public opinion against ‘hippies’, who were mostly people of colour.
India finally buckled under the pressure in 1985 and under Rajiv Gandhi, passed the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act that criminalised cannabis in the form of buds or resin while allowing the sale of bhang.
The states were then allowed to regulate the sale of bhang on their own terms. The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, that influenced India’s ban of cannabis products has since become null.
And now you know.