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Why 0.3% THC policy cannot work in India?

Cannabis has been common from times immemorial, especially in a place like India whether it is in the form of Ganja or Bhang.

Cannabis can be used in several forms. It is often smoked as a dry, shredded green and brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaf. It can even be smoked as a cigarette.

Bhang is allowed and is exempted from the NDPS act, because of only this reason, that its THC content is low, and it is the leaf of the Cannabis plant, and this variety is called hemp, production and cultivation of hemp is allowed by the state government provided they fulfill the requirement of declaring the plant in question or the seed in question, having a low THC content. However, in India, we certainly cannot draw parallels without considering the context. The government of Uttarakhand in their rules of sanctioning the licenses if they can declare that the hemp/Cannabis they are going to be using should have a low THC content between 0.3% to 1.5%.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound in Cannabis known to cause a high, is much lesser in industrial hemp as opposed to the one for recreational use. The THC content in industrial hemp regulated by international law states 0.3% by dry weight or less. For medical cannabis, the percentages may hover over 3% and can be up to 10-15% of THC. For recreational purposes, the percentages are usually above 10%. Cannabis is subdivided into two main sub-species: Indica and Sativa. The Indica variant is known to have the higher quantum of THC while Sativa comprises more of CBD or cannabidiol which comprises medicinal properties. Sativa has a very low THC which makes it redundant for any recreational use.

Health benefits of THC

THC is used to help with conditions such as pain, muscle spasticity, glaucoma, insomnia, low appetite, nausea, anxiety, help lose weight, regulate and prevent diabetes, fight cancer, helps treat depression, regulate seizures, deal with pain linked to arthritis, reduces side effects linked to hepatitis C and increase the effectiveness of treatment etc.

Why it’s not possible to ‘legalize’ cannabis in India?

Most people cite Uttarakhand as an example of a state that has legalized the cultivation of marijuana. The difference is that the cultivation is of industrial-grade cannabis wherein the THC levels are less than 0.3 %, says Avnish Pandya, co-founder of Boheco.

What needs to happen is the legal cultivation of medical-grade cannabis, and the distribution of licenses to research institutes who can investigate medical cultivation & its application. Once standardized cultivation is achieved, and tested for cannabinoid content, only then can we consider the legal distribution of medical cannabis.

There are myriad reasons to consider allowing for the legal cultivation of medical-grade cannabis. For one, a few research institutes and doctors would be able to obtain licenses to conduct studies on different strains of cannabis, THC, CBD, CBN levels of these strains, and have a database of primary research on the medical benefits of cannabis. Numerous studies in the west have shown the medicinal effects of cannabis when used on patients with, epilepsy, chronic panic, multiple sclerosis and of course, combating the side effects of chemotherapy. Studies like these can identify the medicinal properties of indigenous strains, and find ways to administer low psychotropic levels to treat children even.

Additionally, small scale farmers, for whom cannabis cultivation has been a way of life for generations stand to gain from fair prices, and safety from black-market transactions. Needless to say, all the money that is going directly into the black-market can be converted into taxable revenue without having to impose higher taxes on payers.

Lastly, the legal cultivation of the crop would open the doors to big pharma’s and companies coming in with keen interest, and the livelihood of small farmers may well be at stake, as medicinal cannabis growth would require stricter processes - it isn’t all just grown in the wild as one would imagine. These companies will have significant funds to ensure standardized cultivation and testing - something small scale farmers cannot afford.

For cannabis to be of medicinal grade, there need to be regulations and a standard process in place that can determine the nature of the crop, and the medical efficacy of it. This requires stringent implementation from the side of the government to ensure that the right crop with the right cannabinoid percentages are being grown that can actually be of medicinal use. This would take a significant amount of time, discretion and lawfulness on the part of the Indian government.

To sum it all up, we have a long, long way to go before the legalization of medical cannabis in India can or will be realized practically. State governments have to act boldly, and recognize the value of the medicinal properties of this traditional plant, and make way for its legal cultivation.

Geographical conditions for growing hemp

Ensuring your plants have the perfect temperature is not the easiest thing to do. As a grower, you need to make sure your plants have the best temperature for the growing stage they are in.

In the sleepy mountainous states of North India, marijuana has grown indigenously for hundreds of years. Local lawmakers and officials say the plant is part of their tradition and empathize with people in steep, remote villages who consider cannabis the only cash crop they can grow in harsh weather and geographic conditions.

Marijuana plants won’t usually die from being too hot, but their growth can slow from it. High external temperatures (above 80 degrees) while flowering will not only slow down bud growth but also reduce their smell and potency. If you care about growing buds with plenty of cannabinoids, you need to be sure the external temperature is kept under control during the flowering stage.

If your plant gets too warm, photosynthesis is impacted, enzymes activity decreases, and fewer proteins are produced. Some proteins even break down. If this continues long enough, your plant can die.

In Himachal Pradesh, climate condition plays an important role to grow cannabis. Regions that are identified as important for the illicit cultivation of cannabis in Kullu include Malana and Manikaran, Tosh-kutla Regions, Banjar Valley, and the Sainj Valley in the Aani-Khanag Region. In Mandi district, areas, where cannabis cultivation is widespread, is Chauhar Bali Chowki  (Thachi and Dider  Jhamach), and the Gada Goshaini (Siraj Region) contiguous with Banjar Valley.There are dewy conditions, with limited but direct sun and nitrogen-rich soil which is perfect for THC. And that way, Himachal Pradesh is a good candidate for medicinal cannabis.

In conclusion, we would like to say that Cannabis is highly adaptable to various climatic conditions and India is always a favored destination when comes to growing cannabis plant. Cannabis needs fertile soil and long hours of sunlight but apart from suitable soil and climate, India already has a branding moat. If the government goes the road of legalizing hemp cultivation with 0.3% THC policy, it will inevitably become useless because of the climatic condition that prevails here. Indian weather is so rich that cannabis with at least 1% THC will grow. So, this is impossible for India to grow cannabis with less THC content.

We at Himalayan Hemp strive to inform people and provide them with the support they need to get the most out of this plant and are committed to spreading awareness and preventing misunderstandings. If anyone is interested in doing some tasks as a volunteerthey can join us.

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