The Indian seed industry estimates that India has a $25-billion cannabis (marijuana) business in the next five years and the government must allow research and development and export of cannabis seeds to countries where it is being used for making biofuels, bio-plastic and in the pharma industry.
If not cultivation, the government must permit the seed industry to carry out cannabis research and development that will help to curb bio-piracy and genetic contamination said Indra Shekhar Singh, Director – Policy and Outreach, National Seed Association of India (NSAI) speaking to BusinessLine.
“Cannabis is in huge demand in the USA and other countries because of its medicinal value and industrial usage. Our neighbour China is putting a huge amount of money into research and development of cannabis and is encouraging cultivation in millions of acres and exporting it worldwide. Pakistan has approved the domestication and commercialisation of medicinal and industrial cannabis and hemp,” said Singh.
According to seed industry players, foreign companies are making money using Indian cannabis germplasm or genetic resources. The seed industry players have specific demands: The conservation of the Indian variety of native marijuana (Cannabis indica) and Hemp (Cannabis sativa L) must be permitted, the government must license seed companies to conduct research and tap demand for cannabis seed in the international market.
In 1985 the Indian government banned marijuana under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS) but the illegal trade continues across the States say, industry players. In India, cannabis, also known as bhang, ganja, charas, and hashish. It is consumed in form of bhang golis, thandai, pakoras, lassi and smoked in chillum or cigarette. Bhang is legally sold in India.
The seed industry is taking up this issue at various levels pointing that cannabis is referred to in old Indian texts as “sacred grass” and was used for medical purposes in ancient India and the government must reconsider ban on cannabis.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Home Affairs has constituted the National Level Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws. The Committee which has been tasked with recommending reforms pertaining to NDPS Act has invited suggestions, opinions, and views regarding all identifiable issues pertaining to the legislation.