Tuesday, 5 July, 2022
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Let Rhea Chakraborty smoke weed in peace — legalise cannabis, end the hypocrisy

There’s a growing body of evidence to show why the time has come for India to consider legalisation of cannabis.

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It is strange that Hindu nationalists are not coming to the defence of Rhea Chakraborty on her alleged consumption of weed. Cannabis is one of five essential, even sacred, plants mentioned in the Atharva Veda.

Vedic endorsement is not the only reason why we need to consider legalising of marijuana. The ban is unnecessary, detrimental to public health, and is causing a huge loss of revenue to the government.

Many would be surprised to hear that the use of cannabis in various forms was legal in India until 1985. That’s when we banned it under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. This was part of a global push, championed by the United States. But there’s a reason why many states in the US itself have now legalised cannabis.

A 2019 study on substance abuse by the Ministry of Social Justice estimated that 2.8 per cent Indians consume cannabis. That comes to around 3 crore Indians. Delhi and Mumbai are among the highest cannabis consuming cities in the world. Those who want to put Rhea Chakraborty in jail for alleged use of weed should consider this: if the law was applied in full force, around three crore Indians would be in jail, serving a term anywhere between six months to 10 years, depending on the amount of cannabis found on them.

Also read: Rhea Chakraborty’s media trial shows Indians confuse drug addicts with criminals

What does Arnab smoke?

Call it cannabis, marijuana, hashish, hash, ganja or charas, way too many people consume it in some form or the other for pleasure. This is one of our social hypocrisies — we know it is prevalent, we know everyone who does it is not an addict in need of medical attention, and yet we don’t question the need for it to be illegal.

Like alcohol prohibition in Gujarat and Bihar, the criminalisation of cannabis is a sad joke. A recent study by Delhi-based Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy found, unsurprisingly, that most who fall victim to the law are the poor and marginalised. We rarely hear about middle-class or rich people going to jail for smoking up. They’ll get away with a bribe. Unless, of course, it is a politically motivated witch-hunt, which is what the media and the government are doing to Rhea Chakraborty.

In fact, Arnab Goswami’s style of coverage would have done more harm, driving peddlers underground and users at the mercy of unsafe options.  Are the prime time hitmen of reputation smoking something stronger? Arnab can’t possibly be normal to do the item numbers he does to chase TRPs. If you think people who do weed are deranged, you should watch some prime time news one of these days.

Also read: The long list of harmful effects of cannabis criminalisation no one talks about

Regulate for public health 

Nobody is denying that cannabis use can be detrimental to public health. Which is precisely why we need to legalise and regulate it — just like tobacco and alcohol. The criminalisation of cannabis has resulted in a mammoth underground cannabis economy. As a result, people often don’t know what they are smoking, how strong it is, how adulterated, how bad, how many other harmful chemicals are mixed in it. Unless of course they’re growing the Vedic plant in their backyard — not something that’s unheard of.

Legalisation would mean less stigma around the use of cannabis, which in turn will help the extreme cases get better access to de-addiction centres and support groups. Some recent success in Punjab’s war against drugs has come not by putting drug users in jail but by widely distributing de-addiction pills among them.

We need to fight the falsehood that every user of cannabis is an addict who goes on to use harder, more harmful psychotropic substances. If anything, cancer-causing tobacco is more harmful, singularly the largest cause of lung cancer. Banning cannabis with tough jail terms just because some people over-do it, is like banning alcohol just because some people become alcoholics. Not that bans work.

Also read: Weed, Ketamine, Cocaine — rich Indian teens are putting shady drug dealers out of business

GST on cannabis?

There are three kinds of economic opportunities India is missing out on with its irrational ban on cannabis.

First, many countries have decriminalised the use of cannabis. India could export cannabis to these countries and earn a lot of money.

Second, the government could earn a lot of money in tax revenue by legalising the drug. According to one study, the Delhi government alone could raise Rs 725 crore in annual tax revenue by legalising cannabis.

Third, the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy study points out that the strict ban on the cultivation of cannabis makes it difficult to produce industrial hemp — used in various sectors from construction to paper-making. India’s share in the $4.7 billion global hemp market is 0.0001 per cent.

Remember we are talking about something produced from a natural plant that has been consumed in this land for millennia. Legalise marijuana, end the hypocrisy. Something that’s Vedic and Ayurvedic, with proven medicinal purposes, can’t be banned as if it were poison.

The author is contributing editor, ThePrint. Views are personal.

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  1. At last an article which makes some sense. The CBD or THC oil are used in anti anxiety drugs, sleeping pills and anti depressants by many pharmaceutical companies which means it is therapeutic, then why ban it in a country where bhang is associated with a big festival like Holi and even Lord Shiva. This plant has a lot of beneficial properties too unlike tobacco which is addictive and far more harmful than marijuana. In northern states even hemp seeds and leaves are used to make chutney and is part of their diet.

  2. At last an article which makes some sense. The CBD or THC oil are used in anti anxiety drugs, sleeping pills and anti depressants by many pharmaceutical companies which means it is therapeutic, then why ban it in a country where bhang is associated with a big festival like Holi and even Lord Shiva. This plant has a lot of beneficial properties too unlike tobacco which is addictive and far more harmful than marijuana. In northern states even hemp seeds and leaves are used to make chutney and is part of their diet.

  3. glad to know that nowadays many people started to speak about the legalization of ganja in india i aprreciate your article , but why are you even dragging hindu nationalist into this and relate them with rhea ? are u telling only hindu nationalists were raising voice for sushanth’s death against rhea?
    you (author) itself is a fuckin hypocrite and a narrow minded person ,to be frank a person filled with hatred should not talk about marijuana itself ,so backoff hate monger

  4. Yes !! Finally someone that doesn’t live under a rock. But I have one concern, this Rhea-SSR issue is not the topic to discuss the legalisation NEITHER is it the issue that should make weed, pot, ganja, charas etc the freaking villain.

    And the people that are calling Shivam a hypocrite, please, I MEAN PLEASE open your eyes to what is happening around the world. Almost 70% of medical drugs used in India have been derivatives of research from leading institutions like the FDA from the US and the WHO (world health organisation). So when we adopt all that research from them and you take them on a daily basis for various ailments, why not try to give some thought about a plant that has the deep roots in Hindu culture and part of Indian history and is being legalised in many parts of the world ? Not asking for legislation but for an open mind and serious thought. Just blind labelling of it as bad, comparing it murder and rape, and shooting down a article that goes against the tide……… well that’s hypocrisy at its finest

  5. Legalise weed so rhea can smoke in peace?
    Legalise murder so sushant’s murderers can chill in peace?
    Legalise all the crimes so criminals can go home and continue their shit?

    Dude get another because job tere se nahi hoga ye!

  6. Dear Mr. Shivam.. you could have avoided Arnab’s name in your topic. If some one is given more attention beacause of his work you should not be jealous for that. When you put finger on him, you yourself make a rotten egg. When India is searching for a media to overtake monopoly of BBC & CNN your stupidity is seen as a seller of our country.

  7. And this is the main reason India will never develop, stuck in stereotypes. If cannabis is that dangerous, why did western countries legalise it?? We all know they don’t do things on a whim or upon someone’s direction (unlike here in India). People comparing cannabis with rape, mdma, LSD, are you retarded??
    It is rightfully said, ” a foolish friend is worse than a clever enemy”. Pretty sure in coming years cannabis will be legalised in India. Not everything is Rhea or SSR. Little Knowledge is dangerous. P.S i have used cannabis before and have stopped it now, didnt affect my life while i was using, not affecting now too. KEYWORD: Moderation.

  8. What shitty article is this. You are a disgrace as a journalist.
    The Print should be banned and you have the audacity to charge people for subscription. Losers!

    • And the journalists and articles that painted Rhea as a murderer looooong before there was any evidence to back up the fact are not a disgrace to the fundamentals of journalism? Since when did news agencies and journalists become the ones to pass the judgement?

  9. Coming from gymnastics background I can certainly say benefits as proclaimed by smokers isn’t entirely true and it has different affects on each person. It has opened world for many, but for some has drastically ruined their cognitive ability as well. I have couple friends who have destroyed their mindset and goals due to overconsumption.

    Additionally the quality and chemicals used across street side are far dangerous specially in a country where people die consuming cheap alternatives.

    Economy wise being one of the poorest economies we aren’t dealing with the marijuana disaster as other countries had but you can’t disagree that people are ever satisfied and peddlers will have no alternatives but to switch to selling high class opioids. But that is government’s problem right?

    Rhea took one for team. But this is not right time for marijuana business in India.

  10. Disgusting! you support the accused you must be a part of the PR stunt huh. Get the hell out of our country anti-nationals.
    Fake media like the print needs to be stopped at all cost.

  11. You people need to be stopped.Disgusting! you support the accused you must be a part of the PR stunt huh. Get the hell out of our country anti-nationals!

  12. Hi what are your views on legalizing MDMA, lSD, rhea was in talk with Gaurav Arya in 2017 for procuring MDMA. Forget about cannabis I dont understand what us happening with The Print, losing the credibility. I am done , seems no good media person is left in India. What a shame in the name of journalism.

  13. Sure the TV media is laughable. But The Print is trying to grab all the attention in the print media. Seems like the writer is worried about his stock getting exposed. Probably a tip for the investigating agency.

  14. I think Shivam is spot on can’t agree with him more.And the TV channels have become nauseating. Even NDTV has succumbed.

  15. Well, unfortunately ‘drugs’ are the new Muslims in Modi’s grand game of distract and rule, which is used effectively in conjunction with the British-inspired divide and rule. The PM’s own constituency has shops that sell Bhaang – legally. Ironic that this diatribe of news anchors is actually an anti-Hindu Civilization campaign. Yogis and citizens have openly used marijuana in India for millennia.

    While hard drugs must be frowned upon, a soft drug like marijuana should be legalized. It will be a big boost to rural economies across India, and can pull a lot of people out of poverty. It will also stop the adulteration of the marijuana that’s available in the underground market today. The demand is so much higher than the supply, that adulteration does not deter users. Legalizing will also hamper the organized crime network that current marijuana sales support.

    The vein-busting, hate spewing right wing goons and anchors must be encouraged to take a deep puff and introspect! Perhaps even the PM & HM themselves. In their lust for power, they continue to ruin lives much like Sanjay Gandhi once did. Chai-pe-charcha is so passe.. It’s high time for a ‘Chillum Pe Charcha’!!! 😀

  16. Such a shameful article by another “imposter journalist” I suppose. Anyways, stop being supporters of such people and rather you guys should see your hypocrisy because these celebrities who consider themselves as ideals for the youth are misleading them through such shameful acts. Justice should be given and such things should be banned and the punishments must be made rather stringent.

  17. What kind of a justification is this..really and truly anything to defend the accused even justifying the drugs and calling to legalise them. The fact that criminals/ drug peddlers are involved, shows the character of both the brother and sister and proves the fact that deceased went into bad company. Also shows how the accused parents knowingly ignored the habits and now are lamenting that a middle class family is destroyed

  18. Shivam always makes a fool of himself and writes absurd, antihindu, antiIndia, type of lutyen lootere leftist+CONregress CHAMCHA types of articles. Intellectually bankrupt. As Chief EDitor, SHEKHAR GUPTA is gone insance ..SATHIYA GYA HAI TAKLU, to hire such NON TALENT and to sapprove such rubbish, I recall article by some Miss YADAV. whoc came across as DAMAGED EMOTIONAL VAMPIRE puking her UNHEALED TOXIC emotional rubbish on the unsuspecting readers. GOSH.

    The PRINT team ko KALAPANI ki saja dena to mumkin nhi kyon ki it was onyl during british colonial rule, so it is better gift SATHIYAYA HUA SHEKHAR GUPTA and his PRINT TRAMPS TEAM to China to RETRAIN them in XINJIANG UYGYUR CAMPS.

  19. Great piece and vert timely. Some other points:

    1. You mentioned “Some recent success in Punjab’s war against drugs has come not by putting drug users in jail but by widely distributing de-addiction pills among them.”
    This is not entirely true, what you are calling as de-addiction pills is mostly Buprenorphine which is another drug to simply substitute brown sugar/heroin addiction. You can’t give it to a marijuana addict, if they exist at all in the first place, in our experience they don’t as you will hardly find any patient in a rehabilitation centre in India or elsewhere who is admitted for using ganja as there is no physical withdrawals like alcohol or heroin derivatives like brown sugar. Out of 100 patients in a rehabilitation centre in India there would be by a rough estimate 80 brown sugar addicts and 20 alcoholics. The punjab government might claim this to be a successful model but there is no data to prove it. It’s kind of self congratulatory. So i don’t know if this should be publicly accepted, referred, celebrated or endorsed in any way.

    2. Heroin was made to substitute Morphine. Synthetic morphine is Norphin, Buprenorphine is exactly that. So it’s going back to where it started. Any kind of substitution never worked for brown sugar addiction. Number of other drugs were introduced like the Methadone program which was very popular but now is being discontinued in most places in the west. Methadone was never practiced here. What the west is doing successfully now is they are giving small doses of real heroin to heroin addicts to combat withdrawals, that’s the best thing to do to cut crimes related to drug use and also the state knows exactly what’s the scale of the problem. This helps them to plan better. You can check this out: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/norway-free-heroin-drug-addicts-treatment-care-a8486571.html

    3. The larger conversation must be about amending the NDPS act without delay. The entire organised crime of drugs is based on this act. There are multiple loopholes in it. There should be public debate and all stake holders should be taken on board like using and recovering addicts, treatment centers, co-addicts(family members of the addict), the government, law enforcement, self help groups, physiatrists because educated people will only want to believe the doctors and so on. This act should be emended is my point.

    4. More than anything else the conversation around drug addiction should look at it as a disease. Like anyone can have diabetes, it’s exactly that and no morality should shape our view of the addict or addiction.

  20. What kind of article is this? Also what kind of freedom of expression followed by The Print? They deleted my comment, sarcastic, but not offensive. Selective freedom if expressions.

    • The author seems himself to be a drug peddler and needs to be arrested. Also this third class brand of journalism is being protected by the ugly bald owner, shame on print. And this Vij needs to be in mental asymlum. Islamist bigoted facist. Someone who cant get any viewership and beg for money can only express frustration like this bigoted author

      • Where does religious views play a part in this? So anything that opposes the pro-Hindu views of the current government is suddenly “Islamic and facist?

  21. This is the weirdest thing to come out of this write- not unsurprisingly though. Prohibitions do fail but they , over a period of time introduce a social taboo which discourages normal persons – the fear of social stigma if caught. It has worked well in Gujarat irrespective of popular opinion. Our middle class has remained away. Even a liberal approach to such addictive substances can make it a normal consumption. The writer assumes the mass will have the discretion in terms of intake or money spent. Surel we do not wish to replicate the Punjab model to entire nation. Stay way from carrying such articles, Print.

    • But alcohol is available in Gujarat anyway – you just need to know the right phone numbers. Also, marijuana is what’s considered a soft drug.. the problem in Punjab is the hard, one-use addiction kind of drugs

  22. Shivam Vij is absolutely right. Until 1985, Cannabis, ganja, chars was entirely legal until Rajiv Gandhi and his stupid, wannabe aides aping Reagan and Thatcher criminalised . However,thousands if not millions continue to smoke it. Go to Varanasi, Rishikesh or Ayodhya you will find hundreds of sadhus openly smoking it.Long aftr the west realised he futility of he so called war on drugs and have mostly decriminalised Cannabis, India continues with its hypocrisy.
    The misuse of central agencies has become so blatant that Narcotics Bureau with full media circus grandly arrests young boys and men whom may have bought and consumed Cannabis from petty dealers of who can be found everywhere in all cities. Th job of the Narcotics Bureau is to go after major drug cartels and smugglers not aid and abet cynical politics of their political masters.

  23. What’s the difference between a flashy headline and dramatics on prime time television? One of medium, not much else.

  24. What’s your stand on legalizing prostitution and gambling ? Could be a great source of revenue for the government and save the public from deseased and unclean sexual partners; furthermore save gamblers from cheating and excessive skim off. You could juistifyably claim, Mr Vij, in your defence that these practices are already followed in many advanced European countries.

    • I am surprised how editor in chief has approved this article. One can go on justifying many things which are not legal in India using selective rationale. Wait – why don’t you write on alchol which is banned in Gujarat and Bihar to begin with !!

    • Legalizing prostitution and gambling should be done to get rid of British Victorian Moral Values

      Please refer to Arthashastra

    • BJP govt in Goa is waiting to open casino. Hope, you know casino is not a prayer or meditation hall. Come Diwali, PM’s home State turn Juva Adda, even other states turn Juva adda. Ganja, cherus and many other drugs are illegally available all over India. Bhang the drink of in the name of shiva is consumed by even women. The poor guy who enetrs gutter drinks for cleaning muk created by educated fools

  25. Please declare in a disclaimer how much you were paid for this article and by whom (ISI, China Embassy, Drug Mafia, Bollywood Mafia etc).

  26. She was smoking weed in peace.

    If anti India Mumbai police in cahoots with underworld had not given claimed suicide within hours of finding the dead body.

    Instead due diligence should have been done we wouldn’t be seeing this spectacle on ever channel now.

  27. Who d hell r u ppl…mahn…what a disgusting piece of shit ..n u want us to support ur kind of journalism…pests…

  28. Never thought that the day will come when I have to completely agree with presstitutes.

    But Vij is, for a change, right on this.

    Cannabis needs to be legalized.

  29. To use the Rhea Chakraborty and Sushant Singh Rajput case to make a point about legalization of marijuana…. this brainless journalist hits a low point almost every week. I mean seriously…. and to think that I even read his crap even if it is to laugh at him…. I must stop.. seriously… like I mentioned earlier…. Shivam Vij.. ladies and gentlemen…

  30. Didn’t this same news site just post a story about how Rhea is involved in a “Bollywood scandal” about purchasing “Bud: A marijuana drug”. The article also compares weed to cocaine.

    The misinformation in that article was laughable. And now trying to take the high road and appear woke and liberal while at the same time spreading misinformation about the plant is hypocrisy at its finest.

    I won’t be surprised if The Print does absolutely nothing to address this or even if this comment is even read by anyone in the administration. The samw Hypocritical media concerned only with clicks and revenue masquerading as a liberal news site. Shameful

    • The Print delivers all points of view – because after all, there are many sides, shades and opinions to any issue.

  31. I loved the bit about arnab ,the way he is, could it be normal, without being under the influence of, er ,something. Are many of our television anchors like Arnab, normal? Nice article, bro, who could have imagined, a cornucopia affair between two young actors would evoke the interest of all,er agencies with the media in hash like stupor. Let us have a drag to that vijbhai.

  32. What Shivam says is fine as far as factual details are concerned. His interpretation and comments on Arnab etc are as usual Shivam style and need to be ignored. However, Rhea case is not the right one to argue for change in anti narcotics laws. Just as we need to legalize gambling, we also need to legalize weeds which we were traditionally consuming but we need to build up political support for it.

    Why does Shivam not advise Rahul to launch another vitriolic attack on Modi and suggest these changes in the law? e can also argue for employment opportunities it can create for poor people in India. In fact, Shashi Tharoor can bring in private bill in the coming monsoon session!!.

  33. Not only cannabis use of all drugs should be legal with a warning. Prostitution both male and female should be legalised as long as nobody is forced into it. The law enforcement agencies should spend their time only in crimes that cause harm to society and individuals not in curbing harmless pastimes. India must go ahead and liberalise it’s import regime so that smuggling loses it’s incentives. Most so called crimes are simply due to bad laws that force people to take the unsavoury route. Time Indian government fixes this.

  34. Let us also legalize Murder, Rape , Contract Killing, Bath tub Drowning, Hanging and other crimes so leftists can have free run in the country. Let us also legalize state police with their political masters can legalize murders that are window dressed as suicides, Shame on you Author. Are you a JNU alumini?

  35. Yes ! India was always open to the so called drugs like ganja, afeem, bhang, for millenium. No harm was reported nor people misused. Those who liked these items moved to Himalayas. It was wrong to follow western government in banning these drugs. Time has come to atleast relax regulations for natural products.

  36. Wow! What a great idea! Legalize marijuana or cannabis or GANZA! And let Rhea smoke it in peace! But can she do it peace? Marijuana has the property to give one a high. But once the effect is gone, the person goes into the low. That’s what happened to Sushant Singh Rajput; he went so low that he killed himself (assuming he did that). Now persons like this author believe that marijuana has nothing to do with depression. What will make these guys realize, if death also couldn’t do that?

  37. The shift in focus to drug use in Bollywood means the investigation is going nowhere. Recall the early talk of nepotism, next it will be the casting couch. The channels are plumbing new depths, but someone is supplying weed to them. After the Bihar election, it will be one packet of potato crisps each for Sushant and Rhea. 2. As someone who has never bet on cricket, or anything else, or consumed drugs, would favour legalising both. Neither activity could flourish without official patronage.

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