LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA

Marijuana, also known as Cannabis, is derived from the herb of Cannabis Plant. It acts as a drug which is known to influence nervous system of the body. Falling in the category of psychoactive drug, it affects the behavior and consciousness of a person. For years, it has been used for various purposes. Its medical and recreational usage is known to all. However, it is also used for ritual and spiritual purposes. The existence of marijuana has been traced in different religions and mythologies around the globe. The presence of Cannabis in India dates back to 2000 BCE. Hindu culture popularly calls it bhang which is believed to be the holy offering of Lord Shiva. Whereas the Islamic religion has popular controversies regarding its prohibition.

The discussion for legalization of marijuana revolves around its medical and recreational purposes. The psychoactive drug is beneficial in nausea, vomiting, chemotherapy, AIDS, analgesic effects, anti- depressant, reducing obesity, muscle spasms, stress, stroke and many more. However, using it in the form of caffeine, tobacco, alcohol etc. falls under its recreational purposes. The drug is known to create euphoria and excessive amount of it can result into degradation of quality life and serious medical consequences. This is why several countries have criminalized the use of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes. However, there are still few countries that allows either medical or recreational or usage in both the cases. 

The impact of marijuana as drugs has been seen all around the globe. Youngsters are the major group of people affected by it. The illicit consumption of cannabis has been reported in countries like India and USA where young minds are negatively affected by it. It directly impacts academics, social life, personal relationships and sense of being. Its affects on nervous system bring evident changes in behavior, maturity, consciousness and adulting. It has been reported that people from 17-21 years of age are more likely to consume it. These are few of the main reasons that demands for criminalization of cannabis. However, the proactive groups of all the countries are working towards its legalization so that it could be freely used in making effective medicines.        

LITERATURE REVIEW

Drugs like cannabis, cocaine, alkaloids have a rich history. One such cumulative article is presented by Sarah Mars[1] where she has mentioned the addiction concerned with various types of drugs. The International drug control has a long history of uniting people supporting anti substance movement. It began in 1878 where people opposed against alcohol. It was then believed to be ethically and morally wrong. However, the Geneva convention of 1925 took cannabis into consideration and regulatory laws were designed. 

Fight against drugs has been described as a battle that can never be won. Cannabis is one of those drugs that has been used as medicines since ages. Its legalization is not only related to the legal or ethical aspect but also to the commercial aspect. Cannabis has been observed to affect the economic interests of the country. In an article written by Mert Daryal[2] the primary focus has been the affects of legalization of marijuana on the economic and other commercial usages. The writer has observed it through the lens of demand theory and other economic concepts. It is thus concluded that legalization would result into substantially increase of consumption. It would give a free gateway to the consumers and business men. The number of consumers is more evident in the young people in comparison to other age groups. Therefore, any change in legal status directly affects the youngsters. it has been surveyed that legalizing cannabis and increasing its price does not change the scenario. Consumers from all over the world do not get affected with the increase in price or tax. Also, a decrease in price would all the more be more convenient to consumers from all around. Therefore, the determinants of demand in this case remains neutral and it is proved that mere legalization can increase the consumption.

To understand the sensitivity of the matter it is very important to find answer to the question that why people oppose legalization of cannabis. Simple answer can be to prevent hard drugs in society and protect young minds from getting affected by it. A similar kind of question has been raised by Maria Fernanda Boidi[3] in her research paper where a case study of the country Uruguay has been presented. It is the first country of the world to legalize sale, production and consumption of recreational marijuana. This south American country is a role model to look upon. It has fully legalized recreational purposes. However, the citizens of Uruguay are yet not satisfied by this law. Around 65% of the population is in the opinion that legalization of cannabis is against public benefit and it can bring no good to the community. This can be very well said to be in contrast with the public opinion of other countries. Where the people of USA and Australia are actively demanding for the law to grant use of marijuana, the people of Uruguay have a contrasting opinion. It was observed that people wanted to protect their youngsters from the harmful influence of cannabis. They believed that drug usage would hamper the growth of individual as well as nation. The national development and communal prosperity were the basic reasons behind their opposition. However, another factor was political socialization. The conflict between orthodox and political parties played a great role.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

The objectives of writing this research paper are as follows:

  1. To critically analyze the sensitivity of issue regarding legalization of marijuana.
  2. To observe the changing patters in law pertaining to decriminalization of cannabis.
  3. To examine the demands of common people regarding legalization of cannabis in different countries.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

The research questions for this paper are as follows:

  1. How are the sentiments of people connected to the traditional and religious purpose of cannabis?
  2. What regulations should be applied to check the abuse of cannabis?
  3. What is the impact and response of different countries on the legal status of cannabis?
  4. How can legalization of cannabis influence economy and growth of a country?

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Any research is either doctrinal or non-doctrinal. Doctrinal research is based on theoretical study of previous literary works. It also includes deriving concept from books and other primary or secondary resources. On the other hand, non- doctrinal research requires survey and collection of statistical data. The researcher has studied previous research works, articles, journals and reports of different scholars to comprehend the basic concept of legalization of cannabis and the religious or ethical aspects related to it. Thereafter, various authentic reports published by governmental wings and departments of India as well as other countries have been studied. Hence, the research methodology is doctrinal, purely analytical and descriptive. Statistical data has not been implied or evaluated. The paper is entirely qualitative and basically relied upon the secondary resources. Thus, the researcher puts forward a qualitative and well-constructed doctrinal research.

SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF STUDY

This study aims to focus on the legal aspect related to Marijuana in various countries. The researcher has tried to explain all the dimensions and purposes of cannabis in relation to medicinal and recreational use. The research is primarily based on the Indian scenario. However, reports and facts from various other countries have been taken. A brief historical and biological explanation has been given for the better understanding of readers. However, the study is limited to the current times and the retro- legal aspect of any country has not been chapterized. Also, the evolution in legal status of cannabis in India or any other country has not been showcased.    

ANALYSIS

LEGAL POSITION OF MARIJUANA IN INDIA

In India, cannabis is neither criminalized nor legalized as a whole. According to 2019 report, maximum number of states have called it illegal but unenforced. The state of Gujrat has totally decriminalized it and few states of north and east consider it legal. Several attempts were made at criminalizing cannabis in the British colonial era. Later on, the Principal central act of 1930 was responsible for regulating narcotic drugs in India. United Nations have the International treaty of Single convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 as its global ruling policy which classified cannabis as hard drugs. However, due to the cultural popularity and religious customs, India could not support and follow the same. It defined cannabis in its own way and kept bhang out of the ambit of drugs. However, the opposition could not stand for long and Indian government had to frame the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act in 1985. “Sec. 2 (iii) defines Cannabis as “cannabis (hemp)” as charas, that is, the separated resin, in whatever form, whether crude or purified; from the cannabis plant and also includes concentrated preparation and resin known as hashish oil or liquid hashish; ganja, that is, 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 any mixture, with or without any natural   material, of any of the above forms of cannabis or any drink prepared therefrom.” It defined cannabis in the terms of Charas and Ganja. The definition excluded leaves and seeds of the plant and impliedly allowed making and consumption of charas and ganja. However, many states have actively regulated the same. According to the act, the medical and scientific purpose is legal but recreational purpose is strictly illegal. The medical uses are limited to Homeopathic and Ayurvedic medicines. Also, the horticulture and industrial uses are restricted. Section 20 of the act says that cultivation of cannabis other than medicinal purposes is punishable. Production, cultivation, sell and purchase will result into imprisonment along with fine.  

GLOBAL REACTION ON LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA

North Carolina, the south eastern state of USA, has recently legalized marijuana to regulate its sale, use and possession. It has created an office of social equity to educate and build its community. With this amendment it has allowed cultivation of a maximum 12 cannabis plants for people of 21 and more for their personal use. Certain tax has been levied upon it. Also, a registration has been established to look after the growers, consumers and people in possession of it. Since North Carolina is a large producer of hemp, other neighboring states have also started legalizing it. Virginia, another state of USA has recently legalized the same. Cannabis was banned for more than eight decades. However, Americans have admitted to consume it since ages. There was a major support of approx. 54% of population in its legalization. The American states have recently changed the legal status of cannabis. Some have fully legalized it while others have only legalized its medical purposes. One such American state is Alabama which have recently approved the medical purposes of Marijuana. This has created a need to assign cannabis commission to look after making of license, oversee distributions other regulations. Now doctors can prescribe medical cannabis for treatment of cancer, epilepsy and chronic pains. All the ointments, pills and sera are approved. However, any kind of smoking, vaping is strictly prohibited. The state of Mississippi is also considering its legalization for medical purposes.  

Due to such legal amendments, people with drug convictions have started appealing for acquittal and clean records. All those who have been convicted of either consumption or possession of cannabis in past have demanded their freedom and a clean slate in criminal track record. This was an unpredictable response by the prisoners. This demand raises a question on the law makers and it has become very important for them to act in the most logical way. Now when cannabis consumption has been approved so there is no reason to hold criminals from past behind the bars.      

INCREASE OF VIOLENCE AS A RESULT OF MARIJUANA USAGE

During the phase when cannabis bas criminalized and smugglers and various drug dealers were responsible for its illicit distribution, the cases of violence and crime was at peak. Thus, it was believed that after legalization, crime rate will decrease. However, this assumption was never seen in the practical life. It was also assumed that underground violence will come to an end. However, easy availability has resulted into rise in homicide. The upsurge of criminal network and hate crimes have increased in places like Colorado and Seattle. Also, the numbers of consumers have increased from the day cannabis has been legalized. Now, the buyers and consumers are not afraid of law. They have all the legal rights to buy and possess cannabis.

Also, road accidents and rash driving has increased in the influence of cannabis. However, it becomes very difficult to test the influence of cannabis on a human body immediately. With the help of medical tests, its presence can be ascertained in blood even after few days. It has been reported that clubs and pubs have started serving the drug in drinks and other food items. Such places have become main sources for young people. Addiction has caused many physical fights and violence. All this has directly impacted the young minds and their nervous system. Dropping from schools and colleges, hallucinations and disinterest in work has been frequently reported. 

CONCLUSION

The consumption of marijuana is very high in India and other countries. Its legal status plays a very important role in deciding the economic and communal growth of a nation. Majorly used for medical and recreational purposes, this psychoactive drug has been embedded in the cultural roots of many religions and countries. However, marijuana abuse can lead to serious repercussions if not regulated properly. This is why law makers need to decide whether marijuana consumption should be legalized or not. However, approving the medical purposes can be said to be a good cause. However, the increasing rate of violence and crime cannot be ignored. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of administration to properly check and keep such cases under control. Countries have framed their own laws but there is no global policy which covers all the entries and keep an eye on export import of cannabis. Since it can be economically beneficial, therefore, designing an international code for its regulation and developing legit business practices out of it can be a better option. However, the same cannot be forced on people whose ethnic belief prohibits them to the use and consumption of cannabis. However, in country like India, where availability of marijuana is easy and cheap, complete ban on same brings no change in the overall reports. Since bhang and charas are so popular in the local regions and is handy to anyone, the government either needs to put a stop on its recreational purposes or completely ban it. In any situation, the goal should be to prevent drug abuse and work towards a healthy nation.  


[1] Sarah Mars, “History of addictions”,58, JECH 748 (2004)

[2] Mert Daryal, “Prices, legalization and Marijuana consumption”, 6, UAUJE 5 (2002)

[3] Maria Fernanda Boidi, “Saying no to weed: Public opinion towards cannabis legalisation in Uruguay”, 25 DEOPP 68 (2016)

Author: Riddhi Kashyap from SLS, Hyderabad.

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