A shift in perceptions about the ancient cannabis plant’s therapeutic benefits have been revealed in India, ushering in an upsurge in the use of cannabidiol, or CBD, in the country.
A surge of online ventures promoting cannabis-based products, boasting claims of relieving pain, stress, and anxiety, is observable across various digital platforms.
The AYUSH ministry has endorsed the development.
Over the past three years, more than 50 innovative startups have blossomed, as reported by the Pan India Medical Cannabis and Hemp Association (PIMCHA), a trade organization formed in 2021 representing lawful medical cannabis and hemp ventures based in Mumbai.
In a groundbreaking move, Uttarakhand in 2018 became the inaugural Indian state to permit industrial hemp cultivation, with Uttar Pradesh following in its footsteps.
Three years onward, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) clarified the legality of selling hemp seeds and related products under the Food Safety and Standards Regulations 2011.
Some districts in Rajasthan also permit cannabis cultivation, and the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Sukhvinder Singh, expressed intentions to legalize cannabis production in April 2023 to stimulate economic growth and trade.
There’s a noticeable shift among those living in India who are now considering the use of CBD oil as a solution for pain, anxiety, and insomnia.
Historically, bhang, derived from cannabis leaves, gained popularity through Bollywood Holi songs and Kumbh Melas.
However, the latest CBD products, including capsules, oral tinctures, roll ons, and body scrubs, are gradually erasing the remnants of reluctance in the Indian culture towards accepting cannabis.
Global attention to the therapeutic potential of the cannabis plant has been escalating, especially since its recreational and medicinal use was legalized in Canada and some US states.
Google data from September 2020 indicates a significant rise in searches for ‘CBD’ in India.
Cannabis is regulated under the NDPS Act, which dictates that only the production and sale of the plant’s flower and resin are prohibited, but not its leaves, seeds, and stems.
The flower and resin, known locally as ganja and charas, contain high concentrations of THC, the psychoactive compound responsible for the mind-altering effects of cannabis.
However, CBD, found in cannabis leaves, is non-addictive, has no mind-altering effects, and is claimed to have numerous medicinal advantages.
Hemp seeds, additionally, are low in THC and high in protein.
The first ever cannabis-derived medicine to treat rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Epidiolex, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2018.
Companies like BOHECO and UKHI are particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of producing environmentally friendly fabrics, paper, and bioplastics.