Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the world, with an estimated 125 million people consuming it in some form or the other every year. In India, marijuana use has been historically bound to faith and mysticism. It is said to be a drug that helps the user attain “ecstasy in the original sense of the word”. India has consumed and celebrated charas (hash), bhang and weed for centuries.
However, implementation of stringent narcotic laws in 1986 made the sale, consumption, production and transportation of marijuana illegal in the country. 24 years on, here are some interesting facts about marijuana.
Marijuana Addiction Is Rare
An epidemiological study showed that only 9 per cent of those who use marijuana end up being clinically dependent on it. The ‘comparable rates’ for tobacco, alcohol and cocaine stood at 32 per cent, 15 per cent, and 16 per cent respectively.
New Jobs Are Created
Use of marijuana for recreational and medical purposes in Colorado has created 10,000 new jobs in the area. Maybe if some countries make it, legal new drug industry could be created and could help in reducing the unemployment rate of the country.
Even Government Can Earn
If government legalize and impose taxation on marijuana, it will stand to earn huge amounts of revenue that will otherwise go to the Italian and Israeli drug cartels. In an open letter to US President George Bush, around 500 economists, led by Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman, called for marijuana to be “legal but taxed and regulated like other goods”.
Marijuana as Medicine
Studies have shown that marijuana use has dozens of medical benefits. It treats glaucoma, prevents cancer from spreading to other parts of the body, reduces anxiety, slows the progress of Alzheimer’s disease, improves metabolism and is even said to spur creativity in our brain.
Prohibition Has failed
It is said that 60,000 kgs of hash and 40,000 kgs of opium is produced in Himachal Pradesh. Out of that, only 500 kgs is seized annually. As per reports, “more than 1,600 hectares of cultivable farmland and an additional 500 hectares of illicitly filled public forests are currently under cannabis cultivation”. The rate is only increasing. Moreover, these days, it is pretty easy to buy marijuana in India, and its consumption is widespread among the youth. So it is fair to say that prohibition has failed to curb the ‘problem’.
Marijuana has limited Withdrawal Symptoms.
“I’ve heard you have to smoke something like 15,000 joints in 20 minutes to get a toxic amount of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol,” says Dr. Paul Hornby, a biochemist, and human pathologist. “I challenge anybody to do that.” Not only is it virtually impossible to overdose on marijuana, the users face nominal withdrawal symptoms after consuming it.
Illegal Trade & Crime
Marijuana is an illegal drug, and black-market makes a lot of money in selling it. If the drug could be legalized, the government can actually control the black market, and people could make the trade with the proper background. This could really create a great deal to the criminals. Who knows they might run out of business.
Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol.
Marijuana consumption was never regarded as a socially deviant behaviour any more than drinking alcohol was. In fact, keeping it legal was considered as an ‘enlightened view’. It is now medically proven that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. Unlike alcoholics, stoners don’t indulge in rash driving or violent fights. They tend to be calm and pleasant under the influence of marijuana.
Quality of Marijuana
In many countries, dealers often mix hash and weed with chemicals or other drugs to improve the taste, colour, texture or ‘high’ of the stuff. For a good quality of marijuana, it should be regulated.
Growth in India
In states like Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, where cannabis plants grow, marijuana is the only source of income for many locals. However, being a banned substance, the farmers are forced to sell it at a low price to the drug dealers, and they face additional pressure from the police as well, who are paid to destroy the cannabis plantations.