Decriminalise Marijuana for HIV and Cancer Patients
- During the British Raj, marijuana was easily available at government outlets. All you needed was a prescription
- It all changed after 1961 when the United Nation made it mandatory for all signatory nations, including India, to stop the use and sale of all drugs – including cannabis
- Today, research in the US have shown that marijuana has a strong potential to be used for medical purposes.
- Derivatives of cannabis – THC and CBD – have medicinal values.
- For the first time in India, a cannabis meet was organised in Bangalore this year.
Cannabis and Indian culture are so intricately inter-connected, it’s not even funny. Don’t believe us? What do you think Lord Shiva is famed for doing in his recreational time? Indians have been smoking up since time immemorial – just like Lord Shiva. We were a pretty chilled-out bunch of people once upon a time, folks!
And it’s not just the men and women of mythology who’ve puffed the butt. Marijuana has been long used to effectively treat symptoms associated with HIV – such as chronic pain and weight loss. In fact, a growing body of research has even been suggesting that the plant may be able to stop the spread of HIV itself!
But(t), in the Past…
During the British Raj ganja, charas and bhang were sold at government outlets, and all one needed was a prescription.
Yup, it was all happy and gay till the United Nation dropped the bomb in 1961. The UN made it mandatory for all signatory nations, including India, to stop the use and sale of all drugs – including cannabis.
But that was not the end of it. In 1985, when the 25-year-old ban ended, the Ministry of Finance set up the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS), which put ganja and charas in the same category as deadly drugs like smack and heroin. Not a great move, NDPS!
Thanks to that wonderful act of legislation, marijuana is today classified as a Schedule I substance, slotted among “the most dangerous” category of drugs, which need to be tested under strict circumstances.
Hope for Dope
But hold your horses!
Studies and research in the US have shown that marijuana has a strong potential to be used for medical purposes. It’s another matter that mainstream medical bodies are yet to recognise this, but CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr Sanjay Gupta did speak up for the cannabis, representing a strong voice of support from the medical community.
There’s so much hope to be drawn from recent research. Scientists have conducted trials with cannabis extracts to treat various maladies like autoimmune diseases, HIV/AIDS, reduce cancer cells, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, seizures, depression, prevent blindness from glaucoma and epilepsy.
Animal studies have shown that some marijuana extracts may kill certain cancer cells and even stop the growth of certain kinds of tumours. The psychoactive ingredient in marijuana can lessen the blow of radiation therapy, and prevent nausea, a painful side-effect of chemotherapy.
So, why are these properties not being recognised?
The Truth About Cannabis
But if we’re talking about the truth here, let’s be absolutely honest: it’s not the drug per se that’s medically beneficial.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary and important variable in the cannabis plant – while the most common phytocannabinoid besides THC is cannabidiol (CBD).
We must understand that it’s the derivative of cannabis – the THC and CBD that have medicinal values.
— Dr Himadri Barthakur, Head of Department of Medicine, Ayur Sundara Group of Hospitals
There are arguments galore about how marijuana, unlike hard drugs, doesn’t evoke addiction. But can we really rule out that chance? Is there not the slightest possibility that marijuana can become a ‘gateway drug’ – leading the way to harder, harsher stuff?
Let’s face it. 1 out of 6 teenagers gets addicted to marijuana. Among adults, the number is 1 out of 14. Marijuana is a gateway drug, which leads you to the next drug.
Excessive use of marijuana does lead to abnormal behaviour and hallucination. “There is also a direct correlation between school dropouts and cannabis. Also between motor-vehicular accidents and cannabis,” says Dr. Barthakur.
Perhaps that’s why doctors have chosen to sing with Yo Yo Honey Singh in unison: enna vi na dope shope mareya karo!
But we’ve made some progress. On May 10 this year, cannabis was finally talked about on a public forum, straight and unabashed. For the first time in India, a 23-year-old cannabis activist, Viki Vaurora, organised the first ever cannabis meet for all ‘ganjaprenuers’ in Bangalore.
We had a successful meet. There were around 200-odd people, who wanted to know more about cannabis. People are living under the assumption that cannabis is only about smoking. But it’s not. It’s a medical plant which has many benefits.
— Viki Vaurora, Organiser, First cannabis meet
Yes, it’s high time we talked about weed.
(With inputs from Nikita Mishra)