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LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 431-432  

Bhang - beyond the purview of the narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances act


1 Department of Psychiatry, National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Psychology, Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication1-Oct-2014

Correspondence Address:
Yatan Balhara
Department of Psychiatry, National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0970-2113.142109

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How to cite this article:
Balhara Y, Mathur S. Bhang - beyond the purview of the narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances act. Lung India 2014;31:431-2

How to cite this URL:
Balhara Y, Mathur S. Bhang - beyond the purview of the narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances act. Lung India [serial online] 2014 [cited 2019 Nov 14];31:431-2. Available from: http://www.lungindia.com/text.asp?2014/31/4/431/142109

Sir,

In the publication titled 'Medical marijuana: A panacea or scourge' the authors have reviewed an important and widely debated issue. [1] The authors have stated that 'in India, as per the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, cannabis and its various forms - hashish, ganja, charas, bhang - are banned and their possession is deemed to be unlawful'. The authors are correct in reporting that cannabis, along with other narcotic and psychotropic substances, comes under the purview of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act), 1985. However, interestingly, bhang is the only preparation of cannabis that is not covered in this act, and hence, is beyond the purview of this act.

As per the NDPS Act, 1985, cannabis is defined in Section 2 (iii) of the act. According to this section cannabis (hemp) is defined as: (a) Charas - a separated resin, in whatever form, whether crude or purified; obtained from the cannabis plant, which also includes the concentrated preparation and resin known as hashish oil or liquid hashish; (b) ganja - the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant, (excluding the seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops), by whatever name they may be known or designated; and (c) any mixture, with or without any natural material, of any of the above forms of cannabis or any drink prepared therefrom.

Bhang
does not fall within the definition of cannabis (hemp) as defined under Section 2 (iii) of NDPS Act, 1985. This issue has been discussed at length in various judgments of various courts. [2],[3],[4] Hence, the provisions for various narcotic and psychotropic substances under the NDPS Act, 1985, are not applicable to the cannabis in bhang form. The National Policy on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances acknowledges this fact and goes on to mention that the 'production and sale of Bhang is permitted by many State Governments'. [5]

Exclusion of bhang from the purview of NDPS Act, 1985, has remained a topic of discussion among medical and legal experts. Bhang remains one of the least studied preparations of cannabis. Most of the literature from the west has focused on smoked forms of cannabis (ganja and charas). An earlier report on bhang from Pakistan described psychosis, with symptoms of grandiosity, excitement, hostility, disorientation, hallucinations, and thought disorder among 15 patients, who had taken bhang. Interestingly, although the authors described bhang as 'a potent beverage made from an infusion of cannabis leaves and flowering tops'. [6] Technically and legally, bhang should not include any other part of the plant except the leaves. Addition of flowering tops or the resin produced from the cannabis plants is not permitted to bhang as per the National Policy on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances. [5] Another study reported bhang-induced immunotoxicity that could be attributed to a decrease in the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) protein. [7]

Bhang is generally believed to be a relatively less harmful form of cannabis. Its use has got some sociocultural sanction as well in certain regions of the country. Around 17% of middle-aged adults, seeking treatment for psychoactive substance use-related disorders, report the current use of cannabis in India. [8] Individuals seeking treatment for their primary drug of abuse continue to take cannabis. [9] With a growing interest in the potential medical role of cannabis it becomes imperative to study different cannabis forms, for their safety profile. However, from a legal point of view bhang remains beyond the purview of the NDPS Act, 1985.

 
   References Top

1.Kashyap S, Kashyap K. Medical marijuana: A panacea or scourge. Lung India 2014;31:145-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
2.Jain N. Sevaram vs State of Rajasthan on 2 December, 1992. Rajasthan High Court 1992. Available from: http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1779400/?type=print. [Last accessed on 2014 Jul 01].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.Mittal S. Arjun Singh vs State of Haryana on 21 August, 2004. Punjab-Haryana High Court, 2004. Available from: http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1453257/. [Last accessed on 2014 Jul 01].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.Deshpande A. Madhukar S/O Pandurang Kanthale vs The State of Maharashtra, Summons. on 1 February, 2002. Bombay High Court 2002. Available from: http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1406488/. [Last accessed on 2014 Jul 01].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.National Policy on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances. Available from: http://cbn.nic.in/html/NationalPolicyEnglish.pdf. [Last accessed on 2014 Jul 01].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.Chaudry HR, Moss HB, Bashir A, Suliman T. Cannabis psychosis following bhang ingestion. Br J Addict 1991;86:1075-81.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.El-Gohary M, Eid MA. Effect of cannabinoid ingestion (in the form of bhang) on the immune system of high school and university students. Hum Exp Toxicol 2004;23:149-56.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.Balhara YP, Mishra A, Sethi H, Ray R. A retrospective chart review of treatment seeking middle aged individuals at a tertiary care substance use disorder treatment centre in North Part of India over five successive years: Findings from drug abuse monitoring system. Scientific World Journal 2013;2013:316372.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.Balhara YP, Jain R. Cannabis use among opioid-dependent individuals on opioid substitution therapy. J Pharm Pharmacother 2014;5:203-5.  Back to cited text no. 9
    




 

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