13 Sep 2023 Cannabis
This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the Topic details “Cannabis”. This Topic has relevance in the Public Health section of the UPSC CSE exam.
GS 2: Public Health
Benefits of Cannabis Cultivation?
Concerns Related to Cannabis Cultivation in India?
Why in the news:
Himachal Pradesh Government is considering to legalise Cannabis cultivation
WHO’s Definition of Cannabis
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cannabis is a term encompassing various psychoactive preparations derived from the Cannabis sativa plant.
- WHO identifies cannabis as the most extensively cultivated, trafficked, and misused illicit drug worldwide.
- Cannabis plant species are typically dioecious, with male and female plants. Unpollinated female plants yield a substance known as hashish.
- The primary psychoactive component in cannabis is Delta9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
NDPS Act, 1985 Definition
- As per the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985, a “cannabis plant” encompasses all plants of the cannabis genus.
- ‘Charas’ is the separated resin extracted from the cannabis plant, covering separated resin forms, whether crude or purified. This definition also includes concentrated preparations and resin-like hashish oil or liquid hashish.
- ‘Ganja’ is defined as the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant but explicitly excludes seeds and leaves.
- The NDPS Act prohibits any mixture, with or without neutral materials, of charas and ganja or any beverage derived from them.
- The Act specifically excludes seeds and leaves from its provisions due to their minimal THC content.
Benefits of Cannabis Cultivation:
Expanding Hemp Cultivation
- Hemp, a variant of Cannabis sativa, has significant industrial and medicinal applications.
- In Himachal Pradesh, hemp cultivation currently occurs illegally under the NDPS Act of 1985.
- Legalizing and regulating hemp cultivation can provide substantial economic benefits.
- Revenue Generation: Cannabis cultivation can generate revenue for Himachal Pradesh, contributing to the state’s finances.
- Alternative Income Source: It offers an alternative income source for local communities, potentially reducing dependence on traditional agriculture.
- Beyond recreational use, cannabis has various applications:
- Phytoremediation: Cannabis can help in soil and environmental cleanup.
- Fiber and Cloth: Hemp fibers are used in textile and cloth manufacturing.
- Medicinal Uses: Cannabis has medicinal properties, including pain management and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Pulp and Paper Industry: Hemp can be utilized in the pulp and paper industry.
Preserving Traditional Practices
- Hemp has a history of traditional uses in Himachal Pradesh, such as rope and textile making from hemp fibers, shoe manufacturing, and seed consumption.
- Legalization can help revive and preserve these traditional practices disrupted by the ban on cultivation.
- Legalizing cannabis for medicinal, industrial, and scientific purposes allows for research into its potential benefits and applications.
- It can harness the plant’s medicinal properties for the betterment of healthcare.
Concerns Related to Cannabis Cultivation in India
- Drug Addiction:
- Nearly 95% of drug addicts in Himachal Pradesh use cannabis and its derivatives.
- Critics argue that legalizing cultivation might encourage youth to experiment with cannabis, potentially leading to addiction issues, and hampering their socio-economic contributions.
- Health Risks:
- Cannabis use can have adverse health effects, such as impaired cognitive function, respiratory problems (when smoked), and an increased risk of mental health disorders.
- Widespread cannabis use raises concerns about public health, especially among vulnerable populations.
- Psychiatric Issues:
- Prolonged and excessive cannabis use can contribute to psychiatric problems like anxiety, depression, and psychosis.
- Legalizing cultivation may exacerbate these issues without adequate mental health support and education.
- Illicit Market:
- The illicit cannabis market may persist alongside legal cultivation.
- Continued illegal production and distribution could lead to increased criminal activities, perpetuating the challenges faced by law enforcement.
- Enforcement Challenges:
- Regulating cannabis cultivation and use presents enforcement challenges.
- Establishing legal limits, enforcing age restrictions, and preventing diversion to the illicit market requires a robust and well-funded regulatory framework.
- Comprehensive Regulation: Develop a balanced regulatory framework that enables medical access while preventing misuse.
- In-Depth Research: Conduct thorough research on cannabis, including its medicinal benefits, economic potential, and health risks.
- Robust Framework: Create a strong regulatory system addressing drug abuse, health concerns, and criminal activities, with clear guidelines for licensing, oversight, age restrictions, product labelling, and quality control.
Q.1 The term “Delta9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)”, recently seen in the news is:
(a) A chemical used in Detergents
(b) An Enzyme used in Gene Editing
(c) A psychoactive component
(d) An Enzyme used in SARS-COV-2 Vaccine
Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding cannabis:
- All parts of Cannabis are prohibited under the NDPS Act 1985.
- The primary psychoactive component in cannabis is cannabidiol (CBD).
- Legalising cannabis cultivation can help in textile Production.
How many of the above statement/s is/are correct?
(a) Only one
(b) Only two
(c) All three
Q.3 Cannabis legalization is a complex issue that involves economic, social, and health considerations. Discuss the potential benefits and challenges of legalizing cannabis cultivation in India