Since cannabis is banned in India, they have no medical marijuana program. However, they have permitted potential steps towards legal cannabis medicine. In the summer of 2017, Maneka Gandhi, India's Minister for Women and Child Development voiced her support for legal medical marijuana.
A week later, the Indian government issued the first-ever medical cannabis cultivation license. The permit went to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, who intended to collaborate with The Bombay Hemp Company.
Dr Hassan, who is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, a global non-profit alliance of healthcare professionals promoting research and awareness of medical cannabis, states;
Cannabinoid drugs, which use extracts of cannabis leaves (referred to as the Vijaya leaf in Ayurveda) and other parts of the cannabis plant, can be sold in India with a licence under a host of legal instruments such as the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, and the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. Not all cannabis products are hallucinogenic or psychoactive, nor is their consumption a crime. Yet, in the wake of the recent controversies over “drug use" following investigations into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, CBD oil and other patented medications which contain extracts from the cannabis plant have also come under increased scrutiny, along with a flood of misinformation, misunderstanding and baffling demonization.
Dr Hassan, who consults with several such companies, including Vedi Herbals, does not believe the bad press around cannabis will impact the sale and use of CBD and other products containing medical cannabis extracts in India. “I might have got one or two calls from patients asking if it was okay to use CBD oil after this whole media controversy began but I am not worried about the future of these medications. Their popularity is spreading by word of mouth and their efficacy is not in doubt by anyone who has used and benefited from them," says Dr Hassan, citing the example of patients who have been able to reduce their dependence on pain medication, which can be habit-forming and harm the liver and kidneys, after using medicines containing cannabis extracts.
There is an urgent need to differentiate between recreational drugs containing high amounts of THC, and CBD products, says Jahan Peston Jamas, co-founder and director (strategy & collaborations), at Boheco. “We need a constructive discussion around CBD, THC and other cannabinoids rather than this hysteria, and thankfully, medical cannabis is getting a lot of legitimacy from the political and medical fraternity," says Jamas.
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