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History of CBD and Cannabis: India

by in CBD Information November 29, 2019

Out of any other region in the world, India presents one of the most interesting historical cases of cannabis regulation. The country’s religious population has deep religious ties to cannabis, while elites see it as an unfortunate cultural facet of the lower class.

Many Indian officials attitudes towards cannabis is due to a confluence of cultural, colonial, and international pressures.

Cannabis, CBD, and India

Bhanga, otherwise known as cannabis, was mentioned in several important Indian texts before 1000 CE. Believed to trace back as early as 2000 BCE, cannabis has played an important social and religious role in the developed of Hindu practices throughout India.

In religious texts, such as the Atharvaveda (500-1000 BCE) and Rigveda (1700-1100 BCE), Cannabis sativa strains were identified to create diverse psychological effects. Scholars stated that cannabis was one of the five sacred plants able to relieve spiritual burdens and anxiety.

Aside from spiritual practices, traditional healers recognized cannabis as a profoundly powerful plant. Its use was recommended for treating the common cold, diarrhea, and chronic pain. Over and over again, there are references to cannabis as a treatment for an unlucky life, spiritual deadness, and digestive problems.

One common Hindu story states that the god Shiva’s favorite food is cannabis, since he ate it one night after sleeping in a leafy grove. Some religious practitioners make annual offerings of Cannabis sativa to Shiva in the summertime.

Of course, the country’s relationship to cannabis grew much more complicated during the era of colonialism. Western powers obfuscated India’s deeply spiritual relationship to the plant, relegating cannabis to politically charged, criminal, and lower class associations.

During British rule, the British Parliament started to enact heavy taxes on the sale of cannabis in 1798. Rulers attempted to reduce the widespread use of cannabis for the sake of the “natives’ continued health”.

Though the government has attempted to stem the flow of cannabis, law enforcers are typically very lax in most communities. It’s not uncommon to see residents smoking or drinking cannabis-infused drinks in public places, especially during the holidays.

Speaking generally, the Indian government has only attempted to place bans on cannabis during periods of international duress. British rule caused some of the first bans in the nineteenth century, which were only followed up by increased restriction in the seventies during the United States’ War on Drugs movement.

Now that the Western world is treating cannabis more favorably, the Indian government has once again scaled back restriction. As of 2015, many localities have legalized cannabis cultivation for scientific research and industrial uses

Author: Leafwindow Team

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